Arsenal look set to freshen things up in the FA Cup this weekend when they travel to Preston North End, in what will not be an easy game.
Preston are a decent Championship side and an away game is never easy in the FA Cup. Arsene Wenger will need to ensure he finds the right balance to both qualify but also rest some key players, with fatigue more than obvious in the match against Bournemouth.
Goalkeeper: David Ospina
The first change will be between the sticks, where Wenger has confirmed David Ospina will feature. Petr Cech has been poor in recent weeks and a good performance from Ospina may force Wenger’s hand and see Cech dropped from first team duties. Ospina has been excellent when he has played this season, whilst Cech has been more than underwhelming.
Defence: Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Gabriel Paulista, Rob Holding, Nacho Monreal
l think the back four will change a lot with Niles coming in at right back to rest Hector Bellerin, who looked completely out of character against Bournemouth, the Spaniard was reportedly carrying a knock. Gabriel and Holding can come in at central defence and that will allow Mustafi and Koscielny to rest, both players appeared to be carrying knocks against Bournemouth and Wenger cannot afford to take any risks with them. With Gibbs injured still, Monreal is certain to keep his place at left-back. Gabriel and Holding are good central defenders that are more than capable to play in a game like this.
Midfield: Granit Xhaka, Aaron Ramsey; Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Alex Iwobi
Xhaka looks pretty tired, but with Coquelin out, the Gunners do not have many options in that central midfield position. Wenger could opt for young players but I think he cannot afford to weaken the team too much. Xhaka and Ramsey should start to add first team quality to the midfield. Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez are both almost certainly not going to travel in the squad, so that gives plenty of others a chance to feature. I think Jeff may be given a chance to impress in the number 10 role, with Iwobi and Oxlade-Chamberlain given the chance to impress on the wing. With Alexis rested and Walcott out, Iwobi and Ox must put in performances to stake a claim for a first team spot.
Striker: Lucas Perez
I hope Lucas recovers from his ankle problem and can start this game. His opportunities have been few and far between, but when he has featured, he’s looked really good. His off the ball movement and play between the lines is great, whilst his finishing appears to be amongst the best in this Arsenal squad. If he’s not fit, then Giroud will need to start again, but I’d prefer him to have a break and be on the bench for this one.
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