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Arsenal vs. Bournemouth: Premier League - Predicted Lineup & Bench

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How might Mikel Arteta line up in his managerial debut?

Arsenal Training Session Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Arsenal fans are in store for a Boxing Day treat - the debut of Mikel Arteta as the next head coach of the Gunners. The former player, turned Man City assistant, takes over for interim manager Freddie Ljungberg, who will stay on as part of Arteta’s staff. Up first, is a midweek trip against 14th place Bournemouth.

Mikel will be without a number of players and on limited training time to implement much change. However, as he stated this week, he will be expecting to see ‘commitment, accountability, aggression, and passion’ - as the basic minimum. It’s a fresh start for the club and the entire set of players, but expect a shorter leash from the new man in charge when players fail to live up to those expectations.

Check out the gallery below for the predicted starting XI.

Notes on the XI

  • Arteta has limited options in certain areas of the pitch. Calum Chambers is suspended, while Rob Holding, Saed Kolasinac, Gabriel Martinelli, and Kieran Tierney have all been ruled out due to injury. Dani Ceballos has returned to training, but likely needs more time before returning to full fitness for the 18.
  • It’s a new day for the players and I expect Mikel Arteta to give everyone a clean slate. After a rough 18 months, everyone gets, and deserves, a chance to prove how they will perform for the new man in charge. Based on that, I see Arteta choosing his best players and attempting to take the match to Bournemouth - Lacazette, Aubameyang, Ozil, and Pepe all get the nod.
  • With Saka being forced into the left back role and Martinelli out injured, that only omits Reiss Nelson, Dani Ceballos (returning from injury) and Emile Smith Rowe from front four - two of which make the bench.
  • In the midfield all four players have a chance to stake a claim under Mikel, especially if he eventually adapts the team into a 4-3-3 system as the season progresses. But with limited training time, I’d expect a 4-2-3-1 again, with Xhaka and Guendouzi getting the first opportunity in Arteta’s approach.
  • Saka remains the emergency left back option until Kolasinac returns from injury. While Chambers and Holding being out, puts Sokratis and Luiz in as the sure starting centerbacks ahead of Mustafi or Mavropanos.
  • The real question mark is Bellerin vs. Maitland-Niles at right back. AMN has filled in well, once again, for the injured Bellerin. But Hector has now sat out the last four matches and has been back in full training. Unless he suffers a late setback, you’d imagine Arteta goes with the more experienced fullback.
  • As always, Leno starts in the league - arguably Arsenal’s best player of the season alongside Aubameyang.

Bench

  1. Emiliano Martinez
  2. Shkodran Mustafi
  3. Ainsley Maitland-Niles
  4. Joe Willock
  5. Lucas Torreira
  6. Reiss Nelson
  7. Emile Smith Rowe

How to watch

Thursday (12/26) at 10:00 am ET / 7:00 am PT on the NBC Sports Network.