An in-form Arsenal welcome Manchester City to the Emirates for their opening game of the new year on Saturday.
Riding the crest of a wave propelled by five consecutive victories across all competitions (Mikel Arteta’s longest winning run), Arsenal have scored four or more goals in their last three matches for the first time since September 1991.
However, that streak may not be extended given the Gunners managed just one shot in their last 90 minutes against Saturday’s opponents.
Here’s the XI Arteta may deploy in a bid to at least improve upon their previous outing against City, if not continue their fine run.
Aaron Ramsdale (GK) – Only Manchester City’s Ederson has kept more Premier League clean sheets than Arsenal‘s undisputed number one this season (nine).
Ben White (RB) – Forced wider in the absence of every senior Arsenal right-back, White breezed through the contest against Norwich but may well have more defensive work against the side at the opposite end of the table.
Rob Holding (CB) – One of the lesser-used members of Arsenal’s ‘leadership group’ is poised to make a second consecutive Premier League start for the first time since August – his latter game that month was a 5-0 loss to City.
Gabriel Magalhaes (CB) – Spared the ignominy of travelling to the Etihad at the start of the season, Arsenal have conceded nine goals in the three league matches Gabriel has missed – almost 40% of their season tally halfway through the campaign.
Kieran Tierney (LB) – A goalscorer in Arsenal’s first game of 2021, the buccaneering Scot didn’t next find the net in a Premier League match until the final match of the year.
Thomas Partey (CM) – The delay in the release of players bound for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations has afforded Arteta the option of fielding the £50m acquisition he actively and individually sought to recruit 18 months ago.
Granit Xhaka (CM) – The divisive midfielder barely lasted half an hour in Arsenal’s previous meeting with City. However, his performances – in unusually advanced positions – in recent weeks are worlds away from the red card display back in August (which Arteta still felt was worthy of a pat on the back, bizarrely).
Martin Odegaard (AM) – The Norway captain has had a hand in six goals across his last six Premier League outings (three goals and as many assists), two more than the tally he could muster throughout his first 25 appearances in England’s top flight.
Bukayo Saka (RW) – Enjoying the form of his young life, no player has been able to touch Arsenal’s effervescent 20-year-old of late; Saka even evaded Xhaka’s playful attempt to boot his backside during the celebrations of his second goal against Norwich.
Alexandre Lacazette (ST) – Despite being the only 30-plus player among the squad’s regular starters, the stand-in skipper applies more pressures (successful or otherwise) per 90 than his whipper-snapper teammates.
Gabriel Martinelli (LW) – With four goals from six shots on target this term, Martinelli’s clinical finishing has helped Arsenal outperform their expected goals (xG) figure by the second largest margin in the Premier League this season (per FBref).