Granit Xhaka will be in contention to return to the starting eleven when Arsenal face Brighton & Hove Albion in the final matchday.
Arsenal will be eyeing an entry to the newly formed UEFA Conference League next season when they take on Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday. It is a must-win encounter for the north London giants if they are to stand a chance of finishing inside the top seven, thereby retaining their record of qualifying for Europe for 25 years.
Mikel Arteta, therefore, is expected to field his strongest possible eleven, holding off on his temptation to give some of the younger, lesser-used players a rare run-out.
“It’s a new competition so I don’t really know what will happen. First of all, let’s try to finish as high as possible and then after we will determine, once we are involved, what the best way is to do it,” said Arteta, when asked about the Conference League during the press conference.
The Spaniard, nevertheless, faces a few selection dilemmas, especially in the attacking department. One of the players pushing for a start is Martin Odegaard after somewhat impression in the cameo appearance in midweek.
However, Emile Smith Rowe and Nicolas Pepe have both been in great form heading into this game, and might just get the nod ahead of the Norwegian, while Bukayo Saka remains a guaranteed starter on the right-hand side.
Pepe, Saka and Smith Rowe are set to be tasked with the responsibility of providing the creative supply for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. It will be interesting to see whether Arteta does give Alexandre Lacazette an opportunity though, given that it could be his last game for Arsenal.
There could be one change in midfield, though, with Granit Xhaka coming back into the starting eleven at the expense of Mohamed Elneny. The Swiss international is hoping to renew his partnership alongside Thomas Partey, with the duo keen on ending an overall disappointing campaign on a positive note.
Arteta was resoundingly upset when asked about Arsenal’s season and their place in the league table, simply replying with a “No”. He also provided an update on the fitness and the future of Hector Bellerin, saying, “Hector is not fit [for Sunday] so he will not be playing the last time. Like everybody that has a contract, he remains here.”
The Spaniard’s absence means there is unlikely to be any changes in the backline, with the back four of Calum Chambers, Rob Holding, Gabriel Magalhaes and Kieran Tierney protecting Bernd Leno in between the sticks.
Arsenal Predicted XI: Leno; Chambers, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney; Partey, Xhaka; Saka, Smith Rowe, Pepe; Aubameyang