Mikel Arteta is set to be absent after testing positive for COVID-19, while Arsenal team will likely remain unchanged from their win over Norwich City.
Arsenal are set to face Manchester City at the Emirates in a blockbuster clash on New Year’s Day. The Gunners enter this contest with four consecutive victories in the Premier League. Their visitors come into this match on the back of a ten-game winning streak and sit on top of the table.
As for the team news, Arsenal are not considerably affected by coronavirus cases, although they will have four players missing. Takehiro Tomiyasu is the most significant of the absentees, with the others being Cedric Soares, Calum Chambers and Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
Those absentees create an issue for Arsenal in the right-back slot as each of their existing options are out. As a result, Ben White could start as a makeshift right-back once again, with Rob Holding taking his place at the heart of the Arsenal defence. Gabriel Magalhaes will partner Holding, while Kieran Tierney will be stationed at left-back.
The big absentee for this clash is Mikel Arteta, who tested positive for COVID-19 a few days ago. In his absence, Albert Stuivenberg will be in charge on the touchline. This became one of the major talking points during the pre-match press conference, which Arteta managed to precede over remotely.
On Stuivenberg, Arteta said, “Well, Albert will be in charge with the rest of the team and depending on which coaches we have available as we had so many issues in that department recently, but everyone will be there trying to help us as much as possible.”
Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey are set to continue their growing partnership in midfield. Mohamed Elneny and Abert Sambi Lokonga are options from the bench if needed. This will also be the last game for Partey and Elneny before they join their respective national sides for the Africa Cup of Nations.
In the final third, Stuivenberg might have been tempted to play Emile Smith Rowe from the start as he has scored three goals in as many games as a substitute. However, with Gabriel Martinelli being the most in-form player for Arsenal, the Brazilian might keep his place on the left side of the attack.
Bukayo Saka is the undisputed starter on the right side of the Arsenal attack, leaving Nicolas Pepe on the bench. The in-form Martin Odegaard will reprise the no.10 role behind Alexandre Lacazette, who will continue to lead the line for Arsenal and the team against Manchester City in the continued absence of former skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Predicted Arsenal XI: Ramsdale; White, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney; Partey, Xhaka; Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli; Lacazette