Predicted lineup as Arsenal host Newcastle in the third round of the FA Cup.
With the congested festive period now in the past, Arsenal have been offered some much needed respite this week. A seven day gap between the West Brom win and Saturday’s FA Cup encounter has allowed a fatigued group of players to recharge their batteries.
The decision Mikel Arteta will be deliberating over is whether he feels he wants to give his usual starters further rest. The early rounds of the FA Cup always represent a chance for rotation so if the manager wishes he can give some of his star players an extended rest ahead of Thursday’s Premier League game against Crystal Palace.
In all likelihood, these changes will occur. Looking after players’ fitness at this point in the season is absolutely essential. Thus, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the likes of Bukayo Saka, Rob Holding, Kieran Tierney, a trio who have featured heavily lately, omitted from the starting XI.
On to the lineup.
Goalkeeper & Defenders
Bernd Leno (GK) – After a disastrous outing against Manchester City in Carabao Cup, it appears unlikely Alex Rúnarsson will be afforded many more first-team opportunities at Arsenal. Everyone at the club holds the FA Cup in high regard so it’s conceivable that the ever-reliable first-choice Bernd Leno will retain his spot against the Toon.
Çedric Soares (RB) – Having hardly featured in the Premier League season, cup competition provides Çedric Soares with a platform to show Arteta what he can offer. With Hector Bellerìn in need of a rest after regular involvement in recent weeks, it’d make sense for Çedric, an adequate understudy, to start the game.
David Luiz (CB) – 33-year-old centre-back David Luiz is another player who hasn’t featured much for Arsenal lately. Due to a combination a head injury, illness and the strong form of both Pablo Marì and Holding, Luiz has hardly had a look in. He should be given a chance to reclaim his spot at the weekend.
Pablo Marì (CB) – Despite starting three from three in the Premier League over the festive period, it is expected Pablo Marì will retain his spot against Newcastle. As second choice at left-centre-back behind Gabriel, Marì will start once again paving the way for Gabriel to return to the Premier League starting XI against Crystal Palace next week.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles (LB) – After Sead Kolasinac’s return to Schalke 04, it is probable that Ainsley Maitland-Niles will assume Kolasinac’s role as stand-in for Kieran Tierney. Despite being right-footed, Maitland-Niles is comfortable playing on either flank as a full-back and should start at left-back against Newcastle to give Kieran Tierney a well-earned rest.