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Arsenal vs. Leeds United: FA Cup - Predicted Lineup & Bench

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Coming out of a busy period, how will Arteta rotate the squad for the start of the FA Cup?

Arsenal FC v Manchester United - Premier League Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

I missed out on predicting the Manchester United lineup and bench, but went 9 for 11 in the Chelsea prediction - favoring Granit Xhaka and Pepe over the eventual starters of Matteo Guendouzi and Reiss Nelson. Now comes an even greater challenge - the FA Cup and the need to rotate after the hectic holiday period. Arsenal host Leeds United on Monday in the 3rd Round of the FA Cup.

Calum Chambers and Kieran Tierney are the two players confirmed out, with Hector Bellerin and Gabriel Martinelli having been doubts recently, both dealing with hamstring problems. Mikel Arteta will want to build on the win over Manchester United, but will know many of the starters need a rest before the next Premier League match against Crystal Palace. So I’m rolling the dice and calling for a brand new starting 11.

Check out the gallery below for the predicted starting XI.

Notes on the XI

  • Aubameyang and Lacazette played a lot of minutes over the festive period, and you’d imagine Arteta would like to rest them. Gabriel Martinelli has been out with a hamstring issue, but has been on the edge of the 18 the last two matches. If he is ready, he gets the start. If not, Mikel may opt to gamble with one of the U23 strikers, such as Tyreece John-Jules, rather than deploy a senior starter - unless a late save is needed. (Note: Even with Eddie Nketiah back from loan, don’t look for him in this 18 as the club will instead opt to find a new loan spot for the second half of the season.)
  • The same applies across the attacking line behind the striker - Ozil and Pepe will most likely be saved for the Crystal Palace match. With Saka needing to fill in at left back once again, that gives Emile Smith Rowe, Dani Ceballos and Reiss Nelson the chance to start. Not a bad second attacking line, and all three need more game time.
  • With Xhaka and Torreira’s strong performances against Manchester they are the favorites to start again against Palace. Which shifts the focus over to Matteo Guendouzi and Joe Willock to control the defensive center midfield positions. The idea of either staying back to helping the CBs seems unlikely, so it will be interesting to see how Arteta protects the backline.
  • Along that backline I see Bukayo Saka filling in as Sead Kolasinac gets back into full fitness. Shkodran Mustafi and Rob Holding pairing in the back, with Konstantinos Mavropanos as the coverage, and David Luiz as a catch all defensive / defensive midfielder sub. Then on the right I think we may finally see Hector Bellerin back on the pitch, who will captain the team. His latest injury has seen him linger in the ‘almost there’ status for weeks now. Going up against Leeds is more likely than Arteta pushing him in against Crystal Palace next match.

Bench

  1. Bernd Leno
  2. David Luiz
  3. Konstantinos Mavropanos
  4. Ainsley Maitland-Niles
  5. Tyreece John-Jules
  6. Nicolas Pepe
  7. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

How to watch

Monday (1/6) at 2:56 pm ET / 11:56 am PT on ESPN+. ESPN+ is the exclusive home in the US for the FA Cup this year.