Well, it’s back to reality. Those lovely Thursday afternoons were a great chance to escape the pressure and misfirings in the Premier League. Who among us didn’t enjoy seeing Eddie Nketiah, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, and Joe Willock playing regularly? Or finally getting to see Emile Smith Rowe and Folarin Balogun this season, along with the hope their future offers?
But we can’t stay in the Europa League group stage forever. It’s time to figure out how to solve the league offensive struggles, try to push past Man City in the league cup, and perhaps turn a corner as the winter fixture crunch comes around. This weekend is 18th place Burnley, one of the few teams lower than the Gunners at the moment. We know what that side brings, so how can Mikel Arteta set up his lineup to try and break down their defense?
- Joe Willock
- Emile Smith Rowe
- Ainsley Maitland-Niles
- Shkodran Mustafi
- Granit Xhaka
- Alex Runarsson
- Left Out: Calum Chambers, Cedric, Pablo Mari, William Saliba
- Out: Pepe (red card), Thomas Partey (thigh injury), Gabriel Martinelli (returning to full fitness, appeared in the last U23s match), David Luiz (head injury), Sead Kolasinac (knock in recent training session), Reiss Nelson (knock in recent training session).
- With both Pepe and Reiss Nelson (likely) ruled out for Sunday that means we once again will see Willian. However, this time it should be on the bench from the start. In fact, Nelson may have been in line for a start against Burnley before his knock in training with Kolasinac.
- Instead for the attack I’ve got Nketiah (now the team’s top scorer) as the starting forward following his early departure on Thursday, shifted Aubameyang out to the right, opted to use Bukayo Saka on the left wing rather than the wing-back/midfielder role, and another go with Lacazette as the #10. If that fails to break down Burnley’s defensive block we will hopefully see Joe Willock and/or Emile Smith Rowe in the second, both of who continue to impress in the Europa League when given chances.
- In the midfield, Partey remains out with his re-injured - slightly new but similar injury? You’d imagine that leans towards a Xhaka-Ceballos pairing after Elneny and Willock both started on Thursday, but lately, that duo has failed to help ignite moves forward. Instead, I’ve got Elneny who been one of this season’s surprises in as the defensive midfielder, allowing Ceballos to at times join the attack.
- Despite giving up two to Spurs last Sunday, the backline returns. Tierney and Gabriel are locks. Despite improved performances in the Europe League Cedric still isn’t replacing Bellerin and it’s doubtful that Maitland-Niles starts two in a row and pushes Hector the bench. Meanwhile, with Luiz’s status uncertain, Holding remains as Gabriel’s partner in front of Leno.
How to watch
Sunday (12/13) at 2:15 pm ET / 11:15 am PT on NBCSN.