Formation & Selection
Mikel Arteta clearly prefers 433 / 4231, but in recent weeks he has employed 3 (or 5?) at the back.
In 2017, Arsenal beat Chelsea playing 3 at the back, with masterful performances from Nacho Monreal, Per Mertesacker and Rob Holding.
Will we see 3 at the back again? With Rob Holding, David Luiz and either Kieran Tierney or Saed Kolasinac in defence?
Granit Xhaka and Dani Ceballos will surely continue their fruitful partnership in the middle of the park, but who flanks them?
On the left he has to chose between whichever left back does not play as a left centre back and Bukayo Saka.
The young Englishman has been poor in recent weeks, so might be better being used as an impact substitute if we convert to a back 4. Replacing the Alexandre Lacazette up top allowing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to play down the middle.
Auba will likely start wide left.
On the right hand side, Nicolas Pepe will likely be selected, but who plays behind him is a head ache.
With Cedric cup tied, it is a choice between Hector Bellerin and Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
Bellerin is the better defender, but the Englishman gives more going forward and is perhaps better suited with playing wing back.
Arteta has also instructed Maitland-Niles to tuck into midfield from the right hand side at times, which he is more than capable of doing so. But Holding is not as good as covering the right hand side when he does this as Mustafi.
Arteta has quite a bit to think about.
Having not played a minute since football restarted, Mikel Arteta has a dilemma.
Does he put Ozil on the bench, giving him a chance to win his 4th FA Cup medal? Or does he continue to cast him aside.
Something has gone wrong with their relationship.
Ozil played a lot under Arteta prior to the suspension of football, and not played a minute since football restarted.
Is it his refusal to take a pay cut? His attitude? His continual sick days with a “back injury”? Has he just fallen out of love with football? Now happy to go through the motions in training, not play and pick up his huge pay cheque.
Clearly something is not right there.
Whatever the decision, Arteta should announce it today to stop it being a big issue tomorrow.
Following the defeat to Brighton, Guendouzi found himself out of the team with the club concerned about his attitude.
Like Ozil, he has not even made the bench since that incident, with the club reprotedly open to offers on him.
His immaturity is clearly a concern for the club – to the point where they had to discuss it with his “representatives” rather than the player himself.
We are a weaker squad with Guendouzi in it. If not playing, he can provide us energy coming off the bench.
Maybe missing out on an FA Cup final is the kick he needs? Arteta perhaps needs to offer the olive branch and at least let him take a place on the bench.
My gut is, following rows with Arteta in Dubai, mocking Freddie Ljungberg and Unai Emery, Guendouzi is done at Arsenal and will not be part of the travelling squad.
It will be a sad end to such a talented players Arsenal career.
As I see it 19 of the 20 places are virtually confirmed.
The remaining place comes down to a choice between
Ozil, Guendozi, Smith, Ballard, Medley, Clarke, Swanson and Coyle.
As for the starting X1 I would go like this
Holding Luiz Tierney
AMN xhaka Ceballos Saka
Pepe Lacazette Aubameyang
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