Throughout the Europa League, Mikel Arteta has adopted a 50/50 approach.
Half the XI have been from his strongest team, half from the 2nd string.
Arteta then rotated who he selected from his strongest team every game week, and within games spread the workload with key players usually playing no more than 60 minutes before being swapped out for fellow first teamers.
Against Brighton tonight we expect him to go for a 100% 2nd string.
We have the break for the World Cup coming up, Arteta will want to finish the league campaign strong against Wolves on Saturday night. That will mean giving everyone a rest tonight.
The League Cup is low priority for us this season and as a reuslt, Arteta will happily sacrifice it for 3 points on Saturday.
Matt Turner returned to the bench for the Chelsea game having missed the last couple of games due to injury. He will regain his place in goal from Aaron Ramsdale who covered for him in the final 2 Europa League games.
Takehiro Tomiyasu limped off last week against Zurich. Post-match Arteta said “We don’t know” what the issue is. He was then not on the bench against Chelsea. I would not be surprised if we do not see him again before the World Cup back. So expect Cedric Soares to start.
Rob Holding will continue his run in the “mid-week” team. I was suprised he was not captain last week against Zurich (Gabriel Jesus took the armband).
Whilst Holding’s selection is clear and obvious, his partner is not so much.
Ben White is now clearly first choice right back, with William Saliba and Gabriel first choice in defence.
If Tomiyasu is fit, we might see him join Holding at centre back. Alternatively Arteta might go with Reuell Walters, who saw some game time during pre-season.
Gabriel is perhaps an obvious choice considering he will not be going to the World Cup, but I think Arteta will want to give everyone a mid week rest. Walters could be the man to make his first start.
Kieran Tierney will return to left back (although Arteta might take it as an opportunity to look at Lino Sousa. A longer blog on the youngster repalcing Tierney next summer will be released during the break).
Mohamed Elneny‘s early return to fitness will see him replace Thomas Partey as the deepest midfielder. Ahead of him well be Fabio Vieira and Albert Sambi Lokonga.
Reiss Nelson will be given another chance to impress on one flank, with Marquinhos on the other side. Eddie Nketiah will look to end his goal drought.
Brighton have ended their 5 game run without a win with 2 victories on the bounce. In 6th place, I would expect them to look at the League Cup as a good chance to make a final; so expect them to field a strong team.
Enjoy the game tonight!