Unai Emery is set to take Arsenal to Stockholm to face Lazio and could ring the changes to the side, as the Gunners aim for another victory before their season opener.
Arsenal have seen a different kind of pre-season upon Unai Emery’s arrival as their new manager. Other than one domestic friendly, Arsenal have travelled to Singapore and Ireland to play games against Atletico Madrid, PSG and Chelsea. The Gunners won two of those games and lost to Atletico on penalties.
In Stockholm, they face Lazio in what would be the final chance for Unai Emery to asses his squad before their Premier League opener against Manchester City. And the Arsenal boss will be hoping they put on another good showing after being overall impressive during their pre-season tour.
The game will also let Emery assess the fitness of many players who returned late due to their exploits at the FIFA World Cup in Russia and will be hoping to give them some minutes against the Biancocelesti. On the whole, the Arsenal manager will be hoping to end his first pre-season with his new club on a high note when they face Lazio.
Simone Inzaghi will be leading Lazio for a third season now, with his side enjoying a satisfactory pre-season thus far, winning each of their four games. Those games, however, were expected to be won by Lazio considering the quality of their opponents, as it was more of a warm-up schedule than games of any real competition.
In Arsenal, Inzaghi & co. will be facing their first real test of their pre-season and will be hoping some of his rusty stars perform and put on a good show in Stockholm. As for the Gunners, the Lazio game will be a chance for many of their players to stake a claim for a starting berth against Manchester City in their Premier League opener.
Team News & Tactics
Unai Emery has had no unfortunate events till date in his pre-season as regards injuries or any other controversy. Only Aaron Ramsey will be a doubt on Saturday, after injuring his calf before the game against Chelsea, where he played no part. But, against Lazio, depending on his fitness, Emery will be hoping to give the Welshman some more minutes.
Meanwhile, there are plenty of returning stars and recent new signings who have reported late due to their involvement at the World Cup. Among them are Nacho Monreal and Granit Xhaka, as well as new signings Stephan Lichtsteiner and Lucas Torreira. Emery will be hoping to give these players a run against Lazio and get them up to speed.
Emery has confirmed that he could give Torreira some minutes, which will prepare him for the season ahead. Matteo Guendouzi will be expected to start after impressing during the club’s pre-season till date, as will Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Mesut Ozil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi could all play some part in the game, as should all the central defenders. The centre-back pairing in this game could also give an indication of Emery’s plan for the Manchester City clash, and hint at a possible pairing, with Rob Holding, Shkodran Mustafi, Sokrartis and Calum Chambers all vying for a place.
Probable Starting Lineup (4-3-3): Leno; Bellerin, Chambers, Holding, Kolasinac; Ramsey, Elneny, Guendouzi; Mkhitaryan, Ozil, Aubameyang
Simone Inzaghi is expecting the most competitive game of Lazio’s pre-season so far and will likely field a reasonably competitive squad. The idea would be to get his squad up to speed ahead of more big friendlies in the coming days, leading up to the Serie A season.
So far Ciro Immobile, Alessandro Rossi and the likes have fared well in front of goal, so it is likely Inzaghi will stick to the squad. He will also have a few players return after being part of the World Cup, with Sergej Milinkovic-Savic among them. The Serb has spent enough time in training to warrant a start against Arsenal.
On the other hand, it will be interesting to see how Inzaghi makes changes to his side after the departure of key men such as Stefan de Vrij and Felipe Anderson.
Probable Starting Lineup (3-5-2): Strakosha; Wallace, Bastos, Radu; Basta, Parolo, Lucas Leiva, Milinkovic-Savic, Murgia; Alberto, Immobile
Player to Watch
Mesut Ozil returned to action in the aftermath of announcing his international retirement after Germany’s early World Cup exit amid controversial circumstances as Arsenal were touring Singapore. Many expected those problems to reflect on his performances on the pitch in Singapore, but Ozil has proved them wrong.
Getting a goal in Singapore in his only game there and playing a prominent role against Chelsea a few days back signified that Ozil has left behind all the controversy to focus on Emery’s new look Arsenal. He will want to further prove to the manager that he is the key man for the Gunners and put in a good show against Lazio when the two sides meet in Stockholm.
Arsenal 3-0 Lazio
Despite this game being a friendly, Arsenal are better equipped than Lazio regarding their squad quality and match rhythm. But, one has to consider the number of games each side has played during the pre-season, with Lazio yet to properly get underway with their preparations.
Emery will want his Arsenal side to make the best out of this game and will undoubtedly be expecting a clean sheet as well as goals from his players before they begin preparations to play Manchester City. The Hard Tackle predicts a comfortable 3-0 win for the Gunners, with the World Cup stars getting some game time to settle in quickly.