With everything that’s gone on over the last three months, Arsenal find themselves in a position planning for a multitude of scenarios when the final curtain comes down on this season.
The Gunners head into Saturday’s 3pm kick off knowing that they simply have to put together a run of victories if they have any chance of playing European football next season.
The ongoing court case involving Manchester City is unlikely to have a ruling until mid-July, meaning its anyone’s guess as to what value each position could have.
With each team in the league now having nine games to play, Mikel Arteta’s side are sitting eight points behind fourth placed Chelsea and five points away from Manchester United.
Whilst we can expect some surprises over the next few weeks, one thing that’s certain is the level of rotation that will be needed in order to keep players safe and as fit as possible.
Wednesday nights crushing defeat to City handed Granit Xhaka and Pablo Mari a place on the sidelines after both picked up ankle injuries. Arsenal can’t afford many more absentees, so their line-up against Brighton will need to be treated like a Cup final.
P29 W6 D11 L12
Last five: DDDLD
Injuries: Fully fit squad available
P29 W9 D13 L7
Last five: DWWWL
Injuries: Pablo Mari, Calum Chambers, Granit Xhaka, Sokratis (doubt), Lucas Torreira (doubt)
Suspensions: David Luiz (2 game ban)
We all had a lot of thoughts when watching the return of the Premier League, but none more so than the amount of injuries and fatigue we’re likely to witness over the next few games.
It was recently announced that Pablo Mari has been ruled out for the rest of the season after suffering an ankle ligament/tendon injury in the 23rd minute of Arsenal’s defeat to City. The Spaniard may well have played his last game for the Gunners with it still unclear whether his loan deal will be made permanent.
Following his abysmal performance on Wednesday, David Luiz will miss out after picking up a two game suspension (1 game for the foul, 1 game because he’s already had another red card this season). That means he’ll miss the away trips to both Brighton and Southampton, but could be in contention to feature in our FA Cup quarter final with Sheffield United.
Granit Xhaka is back in the physio room once again after rolling his ankle on Wednesday night, with nobody quite sure on how long the midfielder will be out for. It looks as if this weekend will be too soon for Sokratis, who is likely to be back for the FA Cup game providing his rehabilitation goes according to plan.
There remain doubts over the fitness of Lucas Torreira and Calum Chambers, but both have been recently pictured in training so could make a surprise appearance in Arteta’s 20 man squad.
Mesut Ozil and Nicolas Pepe are too high profile players that didn’t get a single minute on Wednesday, so we could be about to see two of Arsenal’s biggest earners return to action.
Likely Line-Up (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Bernd Leno
Defence: Hector Bellerin, Shkodran Mustafi, Rob Holding, Kieran Tierney
Defensive Midfield: Matteo Guendouzi, Dani Ceballos
Attacking Midfield: Nicolas Pepe, Joe Willock, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang
Forward: Eddie Nketiah