Mikel Arteta gave positive news about Bukayo Saka while hinting at a start for Takehiro Tomiyasu, who could replace Cedric Soares at right-back.
Arsenal will be hoping to take advantage of West Ham United’s central defensive issues, when they visit the London Stadium on Sunday. The Gunners do not have any new problems from the Manchester United clash, despite Bukayo Saka’s substitution, which was seemingly due to a muscular problem.
The English international was seen training with the others this week, which was indicative of his return to fitness. Mikel Arteta was asked about Saka’s availability during his pre-match press conference, and the manager allayed fears of him missing out, insisting the winger was fit.
Arteta suggested Saka recovered quickly from a minor problem sustained against Manchester United and remains on course to start against West Ham United. The Arsenal boss said, “He had some issues in the final part of the game but he’s recovered well and we expect him to be available.”
Meanwhile, Takehiro Tomiyasu came through unscathed after a brief cameo against Manchester United, with the defender looking fit again. Arteta was asked if the Japanese full-back was ready to start and said, “You only know that when a player’s been out for a long spell when you put him on the pitch. He hasn’t started any matches yet. He’s lacked a bit of time on the pitch so it’s a decision we will make tomorrow.”
Cedric Soares could be off the team sheet in favour of Tomiyasu. Ben White and Gabriel Magalhaes are set to pair up at the heart of the Arsenal defence, while Nuno Tavares is likely to continue at left-back despite a shaky performance against Manchester United.
Mohamed Elneny looks like Arteta’s new preferred choice in central midfield until the end of the season, and the Egyptian will start alongside Granit Xhaka in a double-pivot. Arteta will continue with the 4-2-3-1 system, which proved effective against Chelsea and Manchester United.
Saka will start on the right side of the Arsenal attack, with Martin Odegaard firmly settled as the attacking No.10 in the team. Arteta could change the left-hand side of the attack, with Gabriel Martinelli likely to start in place of Emile Smith Rowe.
The Brazilian’s pace and ball-carrying ability could come in handy against a makeshift West Ham defence, considering the centre-backs they have missing. Eddie Nketiah has done no harm to his chances of starting once more. The 22-year-old will likely keep Alexandre Lacazette out of the team and lead the line for Arsenal against West Ham.
Predicted Arsenal XI: Ramsdale; Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tavares; Elneny, Xhaka; Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli; Nketiah