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Premier League: Arsenal vs. Sheffield United - Predicted Starting XI & Bench

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The Gunners’ defense begins to take shape.

Arsenal v Standard Liege - UEFA Europa League - Group F - Emirates Stadium Photo by John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images

As they all do, the international break seemed extra-long and extra-quiet as we await Arsenal’s return. That wait stretches out as far as possible, with the Gunners not playing until Monday evening. Arsenal travel up to Bramall Lane to face newly-promoted side Sheffield United. It marks the first of three matches over a seven day stretch.

Luckily for Unai Emery, he has nearly a full squad fit and available. Monday could see the Premier League debut of Kieran Tierney and another chance to see he and Hector Bellerin add much needed stability to the Arsenal backline. Questions remain over Alexandre Lacazette’s fitness, the latest in Mesut Ozil / Emery saga, and how and when Rob Holding begins to challenge for a starting center back spot.

Plug: If you haven’t read it already, head over to the article ‘Know Your Opponent: Sheffield United’ for a quick overview of their summer transfers, recent form, series history against Arsenal, injuries, and more.

Check out the gallery below for the predicted starting XI.

Notes on the XI

  • Lacazette is back in full training, but it seems unlikely he will be back into the starting XI, especially with the match away from home. A spot on the bench and a late substitute appearance seems more likely. Thus Emery will play it safe and stick with Aubameyang, Saka and Pepe. Especially given the need to rotate in the week ahead, Lacazette will have several chances to get back into the starting lineup.
  • Most everyone would prefer to see Joe Willock or Lucas Torriera starting ahead of Granit Xhaka at the moment. However, Unai Emery doesn’t seem likely to be part of that group - and will likely back his captain once again.
  • Rob Holding is fit, but since David Luiz and Sokratis got a clean sheet in the Premier League last time out, Emery will most likely stick with them. Expect Holding to return to the starting XI on Thursday in the Europa League alongside Calum Chambers or Shkodran Mustafi.

Bench

  1. Emiliano Martinez
  2. Rob Holding
  3. Ainsley Maitland-Niles
  4. Sead Kolasinac
  5. Joe Willock
  6. Lucas Torreira
  7. Alexandre Lacazette

Three difficult exclusions in this 18 - Gabriel Martinelli, Calum Chambers & Mesut Ozil. If Lacazette isn’t fit then Martinelli comes in as the attacker on the bench. Chambers is a great catch-all backup for center back and right back. Since I have Holding on the bench, I gave the nod to AMN as he can feature as a right-back, midfielder or even a winger if needed.

Emery had positive words for Ozil during the press conference this week, but it’s still hard to imagine Ozil being brought back in for a Premier League match on the road. Thursday’s Europa League fixture seems like his next best chance.

How to watch

Monday (10/21) at 3:00 pm ET / 12:00 pm PT on NBC Sports Network.