Arsenal vs West Ham Predicted XI: Hold On to Top Spot

Arsenal's Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (R) celebrates scoring their third goal with Arsenal's Brazilian midfielder Willian (L) during the English Premier League football match between Fulham and Arsenal at Craven Cottage in London on September 12, 2020. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo by BEN STANSALL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Arsenal's Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (R) celebrates scoring their third goal with Arsenal's Brazilian midfielder Willian (L) during the English Premier League football match between Fulham and Arsenal at Craven Cottage in London on September 12, 2020. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo by BEN STANSALL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) /
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Centre-Backs

Arsenal’s Spanish first-team manager Mikel Arteta (R) talks with Arsenal’s Scottish defender Kieran Tierney(Photo by PAUL CHILDS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Arsenal’s Spanish first-team manager Mikel Arteta (R) talks with Arsenal’s Scottish defender Kieran Tierney(Photo by PAUL CHILDS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) /

While many might be hoping for William Saliba to make his Premier League debut, it’s become clear already that this will be a season of bedding in for the Frenchman. Cup matches and potential European affairs will be his Arsenal introductions, thus Saturday will likely see the same back three as last week.

That means no place for David Luiz is the side. Despite having trained this week, it would be a risk to field the 33-year-old against West Ham, instead letting him work up his fitness in time for Liverpool on matchday three.

So guess what? Gabriel Magalhaes will retain his the team off the back of his goalscoring debut, a match in which he impressed with his confidence and willingness on the ball after shaky opening ten minutes.

Rob Holding – who West Ham had been interested in – will partner him in defence acting as the more experienced of the pair, tasked with ensuring they keep their line and set up appropriately for set pieces. More ball juggling a la Thierry Henry? Don’t put it past Robaldinho.

For me, arguably the first name on the team sheet completes the back three, with the ever-reliable Kieran Tierney taking his place on the left-hand side. A defender so committed, so in love with actually defending but industrious in forward areas too, he’s an utterly vital component to the structure Arteta looks to build both in and out of attack.

We could see the Scot be even more adventurous against the Hammers than he was in the Fulham clash, even if he slotted into a more familiar left-back role when the Gunners were in possession. With the pace of Michail Antonio up front, the speedier Hector Bellerin could be in charge of assessing danger from turnovers in possession, leaving Tierney with more freedom to overlap Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.