Mikel Arteta is set to make wholesale changes to his side as Arsenal get set to face Leeds United in the EFL Cup Round of 16 on Tuesday.
Arsenal are set to take on Leeds United in the EFL Cup on Tuesday night, and Mikel Arteta will use this tie to freshen things up with his group of players. Several fringe players are waiting in the wings for an opportunity, and are likely to be selected here. At the same time, those who have played in the Premier League can finally afford some level of reprieve.
Arteta will likely keep those regular starters on the bench if needed, although he may not have to with the look of things. Arsenal currently are in good form, having not been beaten in any of their last six Premier League games, although their next target would be to reach the EFL Cup quarter-finals.
In terms of team news, Kieran Tierney seems to be out with an ankle problem, joining Granit Xhaka on the treatment table. Nuno Tavares, who received rave reviews for his performance at left-back against Aston Villa, is likely to retain his place, although Sead Kolasinac remains an option.
Apart from the Portuguese, the rest of the backline could be changed. Bernd Leno could start the game in goal, while Rob Holding and Pablo Mari should line up at the heart of the Arsenal defence. Cedric Soares is likely to pip Calum Chambers for the right-back berth, based on Arteta’s recent selection of the Portuguese as the first-choice substitute in that position.
Mohamed Elneny and Ainsley Maitland-Niles are likely to deal with midfield chores, with Albert Sambi Lokonga also an option to come in place of either. However, with the Belgian likely to be Thomas Partey’s midfield partner for the foreseeable future, Arteta is not expected to risk him for cup ties.
Building up to the match, Arteta reserved special praise for captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, saying, “I have never seen Auba transmit what he is doing now. Apart from the goals, the celebration when they put the ball in the net, do you see the way he runs?
“The purpose he has to press the ball, and when he takes it his movement, his link, how is leading the game – that is when he is changing the rest, not when he is static and then he puts the ball in the net. I prefer this Auba.” The Arsenal captain, though, is likely to be afforded a rest here.
Nicolas Pepe, who has plenty to prove, should start on the right side of the Arsenal attack, with Gabriel Martinelli expected to take up the opposite flank. Martin Odegaard could be given game-time after not starting against Aston Villa, while Arteta could choose one of Eddie Nketiah or Folarin Balogun to lead the line against Leeds, with the latter expected to get the nod.
Predicted Arsenal XI: Leno; Cedric, Holding, Mari, Tavares; Elneny, Maitland-Niles; Pepe, Odegaard, Martinelli; Balogun