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After being limited to a frustrating draw against Crystal Palace at the Emirates Stadium last Thursday, Arsenal will be looking to get back on track and claim what could be their fourth Premier League win in five.
Mikel Arteta’s team seemed to have turned a corner after successive victories over Chelsea, Brighton and West Bromwich Albion, but rumors of a revival faded slightly after the 0-0 draw with the Eagles. The Gunners faced tonight’s opponents Newcastle United nine days ago in the FA Cup third round and needed extra time to beat Steve Bruce’s Magpies.
That night, performances by Emile Smith Rowe, Bukayo Saka, Alexandre Lacazette and Granit Xhaka all contributed to the hosts finally destroying Newcastle. Considering the aforementioned cup tie and the team’s most recent outing, here’s who should start tonight.
Bernd Leno (GK) – He’s been in inspired form lately and made a good save to deny Andy Carroll in the FA Cup tie recently.
Hector Bellerin (RB) – Often criticized by the fans, Bellerin was quite good defensively against Crystal Palace and that deserves credit. His last ball was sometimes lacking in quality when he ventured forward, but his improved displays of late justify him starting tonight.
Rob Holding (CB) – Recently awarded by the club with a new contract, Holding has become one of Arteta’s leaders this season. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but clearly the boss likes him.
Gabriel (CB) – Having had a full week of training after recovering from the virus, the Brazilian is in contention to start tonight and given his strong form since arrival, this feels like the right game to reintroduce him to the first team .
Kieran Tierney (LB) – The Scottish full-back needs to be assessed before kick-off, but since, as was evident against Palace, Arsenal lack natural coverage on the left side, he is expected to start if he is fit.
Thomas Partey (CM) – The Ghanaian returned to action as a substitute in the second half on Thursday night. Signed on the day of the deadline for £ 45 million, his early career at Arsenal has been riddled with injuries. However, when he is fit, he is undoubtedly the most outstanding midfielder on the team.
Granit Xhaka (CM) – Your performances in recent times have been described as “phenomenal” by Arteta in the run-up to this one. He and Partey on a double pivot could be the winning combination.
Emile Smith Rowe (AM) – The 20-year-old has been a shining light in what has been a largely disappointing season so far for the Gunners. He struggled to prevail during the last match, but he proved to be the one who makes the difference in the cup.
Bukayo Saka (RW) – It could certainly be argued that he has been Arsenal’s most consistent player this season and should be one of the first names on the team sheet today.
Alexandre Lacazette (ST) – The Frenchman has been in good shape lately, combining brilliantly with the youngsters and scoring four in his last four Premier League appearances that he is due to start.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (LW) – The Arsenal captain has struggled to regain form so far this season, but his last goal was against the Magpies and while Gabriel Martinelli is back in shape, I would be surprised if the Gabonese attacker was overlooked.