Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is unavailable, while Emile Smith Rowe is set to return to the Arsenal starting lineup against West Ham United.
Arsenal face West Ham United at the Emirates in a hugely significant clash in the top-four race. Mikel Arteta will hope to keep his side’s momentum going and field the strongest possible lineup for the fixture. There could be a few changes to the side that started against Southampton, although the team should largely remain similar from Saturday.
Sead Kolasinac is the only guaranteed absentee as the Bosnian is yet to recover from an ankle problem sustained during the last international break. However, Arteta could bring Emile Smith Rowe back after leaving him out in the previous two games.
But the headline-grabbing news is the exclusion of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who remains out of contention after the club took further action on their star striker. After he was left out of the Southampton clash for a ‘disciplinary breach’, Arsenal have since suspended him and stripped him of the captaincy. The action leaves Arteta searching for a new permanent captain.
As for team selection, Alexandre Lacazette will continue to lead the line for Arsenal. Questions about Aubameyang dominated the pre-match press conference. The manager clarified the decision for the press after the club had made the announcement official by releasing a statement.
Arteta said, “I don’t have much more to say, I think it’s a real clear statement from the club. It’s a decision we have made following the last incident that we had with the players and this is where we stand.”
Back to team selection, and Arteta is set to retain his defensive unit of Aaron Ramsdale, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Ben White, Gabriel Magalhaes and Kieran Tierney. Rob Holding and Nuno Tavares are solid options from the bench if needed during the game.
Arteta has started Granit Xhaka in central midfield for two straight games despite his surprisingly early return from a knee injury. With only a minor gap between the clash with West Ham and the Southampton game, the Arsenal manager might be tempted to rest the former captain and give Albert Sambi Lokonga a starting berth.
However, given the importance of the match, Xhaka might keep his place with Arteta likely to select Lokonga for the weekend’s fixture. Thomas Partey should continue to be deployed as the holding midfielder in the side.
While Lacazette is set to lead the line, there could be changes behind him. Despite Gabriel Martinelli’s improved performances, Smith Rowe’s return to fitness might help him get the nod ahead of the Brazilian. Meanwhile, Martin Odegaard is indispensable in his current form, and Bukayo Saka is the ideal player to start on the right side of the Arsenal attack against West Ham.
Predicted Arsenal XI: Ramsdale; Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tierney; Partey, Xhaka; Saka, Odegaard, Smith Rowe; Lacazette