After being held to a frustrating draw by Crystal Palace at the Emirates Stadium last Thursday, Arsenal will be looking to get back to winning ways and earn what could be their fourth Premier League victory in five.
Mikel Arteta’s side looked to have turned a corner after successive victories over Chelsea, Brighton and West Bromwich Albion, but talk of a revival cooled slightly following 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 see off Steve Bruce’s Magpies.
That evening, the introductions of Emile Smith Rowe, Bukayo Saka, Alexandre Lacazette and Granit Xhaka contributed to the hosts eventually breaking down Newcastle. Taking into account the aforementioned cup tie and the team’s most recent outing, here is who should start tonight.
Bernd Leno (GK) – Has been in inspired form of late and made a fine save to deny Andy Carroll in the FA Cup tie recently.
Hector Bellerin (RB) – Often criticised by the fans, Bellerin was pretty good defensively against Crystal Palace and for that deserves credit. His final ball at times lacked quality when he did venture forward but his improved displays of late warrant him starting tonight.
Rob Holding (CB) – Recently rewarded by the club with a new contract, Holding has emerged as one of Arteta’s leaders this season. He’s not everybody’s cup of tea but the boss clearly likes him.
Gabriel (CB) – Having had a full week of training after recovering from the virus, the Brazilian is in contention to start this evening and given his strong form since his arrival, this feels like the right game to re-introduce him to the first-team.
Kieran Tierney (LB) – The Scottish full back is due to be assessed ahead of kick off but given, as was evident vs Palace, Arsenal are lacking in natural cover on the left-hand side, he is expected to start if fit.
Thomas Partey (CM) – The Ghanaian returned to action as a second-half substitute on Thursday night. Signed on deadline day for £45m, his early Arsenal career has been plagued by injury. However, when fit, he is undoubtedly the team’s standout midfield player.
Granit Xhaka (CM) – His performances of late have been described as “phenomenal” by Arteta in the lead up to this one. He and Partey in a double-pivot could be the winning combination.
Emile Smith Rowe (AM) – The 20-year-old has been a bright light in what has been a largely disappointing campaign so far for the Gunners. He struggled to impose himself during the last fixture but proved the difference maker in the cup.
Bukayo Saka (RW) – You could certainly make a case that he has been Arsenal’s most consistent performer this season and must be one of the first names on the team sheet nowadays.
Alexandre Lacazette (ST) – The Frenchman has been in fine form of late, combining brilliantly with the young-guns and scoring four in his last four Premier League appearances he must start.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (LW) – The Arsenal skipper has struggled for form so far this season, but his last goal came against the Magpies and although Gabriel Martinelli has returned to fitness, I’d be surprised if the Gabonese attacker was overlooked.