Thomas Partey, Gabriel and Ben White could mark their returns against Norwich City, boosting Arsenal’s chances of securing their first points for the season.
Arsenal take on Norwich City at the Emirates, with the home team looking to collect their first points of the season. The Gunners have endured a difficult start to the season, losing three games on the trot and scoring no goals in the process. However, the return of key personnel could aid their bid to get a first win of the season and kick start from there.
Ben White, Gabriel Magalhaes and Thomas Partey have regained full fitness to boost Mikel Arteta’s options, and all three stars could play from the start. Granit Xhaka will remain suspended for the next three games following his dismissal against Manchester City, meaning he will be out of contention against Norwich.
The Swiss international’s absence compounds problems for Arteta in midfield. The Arsenal boss might have preferred to take things slow with Partey after his recent injury struggles, but now he could be forced to play from the start. Mohamed Elneny’s untimely injury also poses a problem, meaning Albert Sambi Lokonga could start alongside the Ghanaian.
After securing a work permit, Takehiro Tomiyasu is eligible to play and fit to start. However, Arteta might feel the Norwich game could come too soon for him, and he will possibly be an option off the bench. The Arsenal manager has plenty of choices at right-back, with Cedric Soares, Calum Chambers and Ainsley Maitland-Niles all in contention.
Gabriel’s return is a timely boost for Arteta as Arsenal have utterly struggled at the back in his absence. The Brazilian will replace Pablo Mari, who has come under heavy criticism for his display against Chelsea, with White in contention to partner him at the heart of the defence.
Arteta answered journalists who asked about the the potentiality of the Gabriel-White partnership. The Arsenal manager said, “They are one of the options. They’ve both been signed since I was here, because they have the profile and the qualities that we are looking for. Now they need to establish a relationship. That cohesion in the backline is really important. They’ve never played together, but they will do.”
Emile Smith Rowe, meanwhile, is a doubt after a bout of illness this week. He returned to training on Friday, which could be an indication of his involvement. However, with all the attacking options available at Arteta’s disposal, Smith Rowe might start from the bench in the company of strikers Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah.
Despite good competition from new signing Aaron Ramsdale, Bernd Leno will start between the posts. Drafting Maitland-Niles in that familiar role ahead of other competitors could solve Arteta’s right-back conundrum, while Kieran Tierney should keep his place at left-back.
Bukayo Saka could start instead of Smith Rowe on the left flank, with Martin Odegaard ready to take up the no. 10 role behind striker and captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Nicolas Pepe could also benefit from Smith Rowe’s potential absence as he will likely start on the right side of the Arsenal attack against Norwich.
Arsenal Predicted XI: Leno; Maitland-Niles, White, Gabriel, Tierney; Partey, Sambi; Pepe, Odegaard, Saka; Aubameyang