The Gunners enter Sunday in a very unfamiliar place. Arsenal sit in 14th place, winless in their last three Premier League matches and heading to Spurs who are atop the league table. Tottenham have only lost one match since September 14th, have one the top scoring teams in the league and have only let in a league best nine goals so far this season. Not a favorable set of circumstances when facing off against your rival.
But as we are always told, throw out form and league position when heading into a derby match. The truth is Arsenal need Sunday to go against recent results. A loss at Spurs would see them 11 points off the top of the table. However, victory would lift them to within five points of Tottenham and could give the side a much needed season turning point. So who does Arteta go with to start on Sunday, holding off Spurs’ attack, yet able to create enough chances going forward.
Predicted Starting XI
- Joe Willock
- Eddie Nketiah
- Ainsley Maitland-Niles
- Shkodran Mustafi
- Dani Ceballos
- Alex Runarsson
Notes on the XI:
- Left Out: Emile Smith Rowe, Calum Chambers, William Saliba, Cedric
Out (at the time of writing): Pepe [red card],
- Considering the form of both sides and playing away at Tottenham, I expect Arteta to take a more conservative approach. Gabriel anchors a back-three with Tierney pulled in on the left side and Holding on his right. Bellerin and Saka take up the wing-back / wide midfielder roles to allow Arsenal to switch between five in the back if needed, allow both to bomb forward in the attack throughout the match, and push Saka forward and shift into a traditional back four if the game dictates.
- Up front Lacazette and Aubameyang start, despite the stats saying they have actually performed better apart than together. Arsenal will need help holding up the ball on Sunday, and his performance playing deeper on Thursday means we could at times see him drift back into that spot, Aubameyang move up top, Saka shift to the left wing and the backline as a back four. On the other side, Pepe is still suspended and Willian hasn’t really had a great game since opening day against Fulham. On the other hand Reiss Nelson continues to shine in the Europa League and created the most chances on Thursday. This could be a breakout moment for him.
- In the midfield with Thomas Partey not officially cleared by Saturday, we can’t be sure he is fit enough to be available for selection, let alone to start. Thus considering the situation I believe that Arteta will opt for the more defensive minded Xhaka-Elneny pairing. They can help shield the backline and allow Saka and Bellerin to bring forward at times. For now I have Dani Ceballos and Joe Willock on the bench, but if Partey is available you’d imagine he is in the 18 given the significance of the match.
How to watch
Sunday (12/6) at 11:30 am ET / 8:30 am PT on Peacock Premium.