Arsenal are expected to maintain their 4-1-4-1 formation against Premier League new boys Leicester City on Sunday. With Monday’s transfer deadline approaching, some of the Arsenal squad will be looking to put in a strong performance in order to keep their place ahead of several expected arrivals.
Goalkeeper: Wojciech Szczesny
New goalkeeper David Ospina may be in the squad this weekend after resuming full training this Friday, however he is not expected to start. Arsene Wenger has publicly stated that Szczesny will start as his No. 1 goalkeeper, so he will be looking to secure his place following Ospina’s return. Of course, potential alternatives include Colombian David Ospina, or youngster Emiliano Martinez.
Right-Back: Mathieu Debuchy
Despite his red card against Besiktas on Wednesday night, Debuchy enjoyed a strong display, and the experienced Frenchman is expected to start once again against Leicester this weekend. Calum Chambers is one potential alternative, and will be in good spirits following his call-up to the England national team. Another alternative is young Spaniard Hector Bellerin, who could make the substitutes’ bench.
Right Centre-Back: Per Mertesacker (Captain)
Arsenal’s big German centre-back is expected to start once again this weekend, having made his return from World Cup duty in Arsenal’s previous two matches. Mertesacker is also expected to captain the side due to club captain Mikel Arteta’s injury. Potential alternatives include Calum Chambers, who has impressed at centre-back so far this season, or Laurent Koscielny, although he is expected to start as the left centre-back.
Left Centre-Back: Laurent Koscielny
The outstanding French centre-half is expected to start alongside Per Mertesacker, as he did against Besiktas on Wednesday night. There are worries of a potential Achilles injury, though this is not expected to keep Koscielny out of Sunday’s game. Potential alternatives include Per Mertesacker, who could start as the left-centre back, or Nacho Monreal, although that would leave the Gunners without a left-back.
Left-Back: Nacho Monreal
With Kieran Gibbs’ injury, the unconfident Spaniard is the only senior left-back available in Arsenal’s squad, and so is a certainty to start. Monreal has struggled to find his feet at Arsenal, but has impressed in his last two games, providing a vital assist against Everton, and producing a strong performance against Besiktas. If Monreal somehow gets injured, versatile midfielders Mathieu Flamini or Francis Coquelin may be called upon to start.
Defensive Midfielder: Mathieu Flamini
With club captain Mikel Arteta still out with an injury, experienced Frenchman Mathieu Flamini is the obvious choice for Sunday’s game. Flamini struggled to impose himself against Besiktas on Wednesday night, and will be looking to have a strong game amidst rumours of a new defensive midfielder coming in before the end of the transfer window. Potential alternatives include Francis Coquelin, although this is unlikely; Abou Diaby, who played for the U-21s this week; Calum Chambers, who Wenger has stated has the qualities to play in defensive midfield; or Jack Wilshere, who some say would suit a more deep-lying role.
Right-Winger: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
This is a big season for the young man signed from Southampton. Whilst he has always looked a good prospect, Oxlade-Chamberlain has never truly established himself as a regular starter for Arsenal. Whilst he still has time to develop, Arsenal fans will be expecting a lot from him this season, so he will want to have a strong game against Leicester this weekend. Potential alternatives include Alexis, who has been used as a right-winger on several occasions this season; Joel Campbell, who often played as a right-winger for Olympiacos last season; Tomas Rosicky, who has been used on the right by Arsene Wenger in the past; or Santi Cazorla, although he could alternatively start on the left.
Right Centre-Midfielder: Aaron Ramsey
Aaron Ramsey missed out on Arsenal’s Champions League qualifier against Besiktas through suspension, though is expected to return for the Gunners this weekend. He is expected to play a key role alongside Jack Wilshere, although it is clear that Wilshere benefitted from being the main creative force against Besiktas. Potential alternatives include Tomas Rosicky, who could be used centrally; Santi Cazorla, who showed some impressive form against Besiktas in a central role; Abou Diaby, who has returned from yet another injury; or Francis Coquelin, who has been linked with a move away from the club.
Left Centre-Midfielder: Jack Wilshere
Jack Wilshere had his best game in months against Besiktas on the weekend, reminding Arsenal fans of just what he is capable of. However, there is still room for improvement, particularly with Wilshere’s decision-making. Nonetheless, Wilshere will be hoping to keep up his good form. Potential alternatives include Mesut Ozil, who many will hope will start centrally; Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky, who as previously mentioned could play centrally; or Francis Coquelin, although this is unlikely.
Left-Winger: Mesut Ozil
The left-wing is one of Arsenal’s most congested positions, particularly now that Mesut Ozil is being used out wide. This positional transition has come with mixed reviews, as some Arsenal fans believe Ozil does not have the attributes to be a winger. However, he has showed some tidy passing in his last two games, and a more creative player down the left can often be a success, as seen with David Silva for Manchester City. Potential alternatives include Santi Cazorla, who play left-wing for the majority of last season; Alexis, who can play on either wing; Lukas Podolski, who has been named in the squad by Arsene Wenger; Joel Campbell, who played at left-wing for Arsenal in pre-season; or even Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who has sometimes been deployed down the left.
Alexis did not look impressive when playing as a striker against Everton last weekend, with Olivier Giroud replacing him at half-time. He was, however, simply outstanding against Besiktas as a striker on Wednesday. His goal was both vital and well-taken, and his workrate for phenomenal towards the end of the game. Potential alternatives include Yaya Sanogo, who could be fit for the weekend; Lukas Podolski, despite ongoing speculation about his future at the club; or Joel Campbell, who is expected to be on the bench.
Agree? Create your Arsenal XI here
By Lucas Jones (Twitter: @LucasJones4)