Arsenal face Everton in the Premier League on Saturday. This is the Gunners’ predicted lineup.
It’s set to be an interesting lineup from Mikel Arteta on Saturday, not as much for what changes he may or may not make, but as a way of determining his mindset for the remainder of the campaign.
Should he opt for the same side that drew 1-1 with Southampton, barring the unavoidable absence of Gabriel, it will signal that the few positives gained from the draw are enough to convince the Spaniard his side are making strides.
Likewise, if he reverts to playing Willian on the right wing and brings Hector Bellerin back into the fold immediately following his suspension, the strong indications are that he has no faith in his backup options and truly believes the more senior members will start to produce.
For that reason there will be eyes transfixed on the Arsenal Twitter page at precisely 16:30 – even more so than usual.
Those eager supporters will be further enticed by the lineup as some faint belief of Arsenal causing an upset lingers, the reasons for that being the absences of key Everton players James Rodriguez and Allan. Both were Carlo Ancelotti summer signings, and have been two of the clubs best performers this season alongside top goalscorer Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
There is every chance Arteta reverts to a back three, although a weakened Toffees side could be there for the taking in some peoples’ minds.
Of course, that totally dispels the fact that Arsenal are a woeful footballing side at this moment in time, bereft of confidence, form and ultimately quality. Oh, and Everton beat Chelsea and Leicester in their previous two matches, both without Rodriguez.
Can Arsenal win matches? There are individuals in this side who can impact the course of the match, but they’ve been hiding all season and the end result is historically bad form – that being one of many aspects. Anyway, here’s your predicted lineup.
Goalkeeper & Defenders
Bernd Leno (GK) – Anyone fancy Runar Alex Runarsson for this one? Nope, didn’t think so. Take Leno out of this team if you want to totally obliterate your chances of drawing, let alone winning.
Rob Holding (CB) – Keeping his place in the team will be Holding, who despite playing quite poorly up until the red card against Southampton, buckled down and was integral to Arsenal holding on for a point against wave after wave of attack.
David Luiz (CB) – This is a tough one to call, but one that will ultimately come down to fitnes over anything else. Pablo Mari is the natural fit in this team for Gabriel’s absence, but he hasn’t played any minutes in the Premier League yet and it would constitute too much of a risk at this stage.
Kieran Tierney (CB) – Arteta looks likely to persist with his formation until January at least, aiming to win matches by single goal margins or, at worst, collect a point. He doesn’t have the personnel for his preferred system, and with Everton setting up in a back three, he’ll fancy matching Ancelotti’s team like for like.