We look at the possible line-up for Arsenal as they travel to the west side of London for their Premier League fixture against Chelsea on Wednesday. The Gunners will be looking to avenge their 2-0 home defeat in August last year. After the initial three losses at the beginning of the season, they made a pretty good turnaround, with a top-four finish looking almost certain at one stage.
However, the Gunners have recently hit a rough patch. They have lost 4 of their last 5 Premier League games, losing pace in the top-4 pursuit. This includes an embarrassing run of 3 consecutive losses to Crystal Palace, Brighton, and Southampton. Mikel Arteta’s men currently sit 6th in the table, level on points with Manchester United and three behind Tottenham Hotspur.
Amid this difficult phase, the Gunners have another massive hurdle in their paths. Arsenal travel to Stamford Bridge tonight in a crucial tie against Chelsea. Thomas Tuchel’s men are isolated in third place; 5 points clear of Tottenham and 11 adrift of Liverpool.
Chelsea have been in good form in the Premier League recently, having won 4 of their last 5 games. Although they crashed out of the Champions League on the finest of margins against Real Madrid, the Blues managed to progress to the finals of the FA Cup.
Thomas Tuchel has to make do without Mateo Kovacic and Ben Chilwell. Player availability will play a huge role in Mikel Arteta’s team selection for tonight. The Spaniard is without Kieran Tierney and Thomas Partey. Takehiro Tomiyasu also remains highly doubtful to have any participation in the game, while Alexandre Lacazette is still COVID positive. This is how Arsenal could line up for the crucial game against Chelsea.
Arsenal Starting Line-up against Chelsea
Aaron Ramsdale: The Englishman has had a few tough outings recently. Ramsdale has conceded 8 goals in the last 5 Premier League games. The 24-year-old has also managed just 3 clean sheets in his last 10 games. Against the likes of Kai Havertz, Mason Mount, Christian Pulisic, etc., the former Sheffield United shot-stopper can expect to have his hands full. Ramsdale will be hoping to lead from the back with a strong showing.
Cedric Soares (RB): Arsenal fans will be pleased to hear that Tomiyasu is closing in on his return. Mikel Arteta admitted that the involvement of the Japanese full-back was yet to begin. Tomiyasu has missed 11 games owing to a calf injury. Therefore, it would be unwise to rush the 23-year-old full-back straight back into the starting line-up, especially considering the expected intensity of tonight’s game.
Meanwhile, Cedric has held his own in the right-back role in recent weeks. He has been a safe option in possession and fairly reliable in defence too. The former Southampton right-back can be expected to start on the right side of the defence against the Blues.
Ben White (RCB): Ben White has been one of Arsenal’s most reliable players recently. The Englishman has been composed defensively and has thwarted opposition attackers well. White also remains Arsenal’s key player in the first line of progression. Southampton, Crystal Palace, and Brighton set up game plans that aimed to restrict his involvement in ball distribution. Mikel Arteta will be looking to devise a strategy to allow the 24-year-old to thrive on the ball too.
Gabriel (LCB): The Brazilian has been subpar in recent weeks. Gabriel was directly at fault for two of the three goals Crystal Palace scored against the Gunners. His inability to progress the ball as effectively as White has been exploited by opposition attackers too. Gabriel will be hoping to begin his retrieve his form with a solid display in the Chelsea vs Arsenal game tonight.
Nuno Tavares (LB): Since Tierney’s absence, Tavares has been utilised at left-back. The former Benfica man has been fairly solid, albeit unspectacular. Tavares will come up against a red-hot Mason Mount and Kai Havertz, not to mention Reece James and will have to bring his A-game. His recovery speed and physicality will be crucial to minimising Chelsea’s chances on the counter-attack.
Mohamed Elneny (DM): Arteta has tried Albert Sambi Lokonga in the defensive role since Partey’s injury. The young Belgian is a calming influence on the ball, but still has aspects of his defensive game that need work. On the other hand, Mohamed Elneny guarantees defensive solidity, even if it comes at the expense of better ball distribution ability. In a game where Arsenal may spend long spells without the ball or in their own third, Arteta may be tempted to opt for more security in front of the defence.
Granit Xhaka (CM): Granit Xhaka has been a regular under Arteta, and that seems unlikely to change. In the absence of Thomas Partey, Xhaka has played as an interior higher up the field. Against the Blues however, Arteta may revert to a double pivot and utilise the Swiss international in a deeper role.
Martin Odegaard (CAM): Odegaard will be looking to quickly forget a disappointing outing against Southampton. The burden of creativity has fallen squarely on his shoulders with Saka also struggling and Emile Smith Rowe being on the bench. The Gunners will need to work hard to break down Chelsea’s back-five. Odegaard’s movements between the lines and in the half-spaces could be an important factor in the final third.
Bukayo Saka (RW): Saka has been marked out by opponents recently as he possesses the biggest threat. The 20-year-old is often afforded minimum space and time on the wing, limiting his influence. Arteta could be tempted to shift the Englishman to left-back but is unlikely to do so.
Gabriel Martinelli (CF): Nketiah might return to the bench, allowing Martinelli to operate in the central role. The Brazilian has looked very dangerous in and around the box this season. His work-rate will also be crucial to disrupt and hassle Chelsea’s first line of progression. However, he will have his task cut out against the likes of Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger.
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Emile Smith Rowe (LW): Smith Rowe has been on the bench in recent weeks and has largely been used as an impact substitute. Lacazette’s exclusion has opened up room for other Arsenal forwards. Eddie Nketiah failed to impress against Southampton and could be reinstituted to the bench. Smith Rowe is Arsenal’s top scorer in the Premier League this season.
How do you think Arsenal should line up against Chelsea? Let us know in the comments.
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