Six points from the opening two rounds in the Premier League, a Community Shield victory, and advancing in the League Cup past Leicester City. A very nice run of matches for Arsenal under Mikel Arteta, especially when you tack on last season’s FA Cup wins over Manchester City and Chelsea and the league victory against Liverpool. Monday brings the next big test and the start of a long week.
It’ll be three games in seven days, including two trips to Anfield. While the Gunners have come out on top during the last two meetings against Liverpool, the set of matches this weekend is quite a unique scenario having to play the same opponent twice in short order in two different competitions. Expect to see the first XI, or close to it, that we’ve seen so far in the Premier League in the first tie, and very close to the League Cup XI that faced Leicester lining up for that competition once again on Thursday.
Predicted Starting XI
- Eddie Nketiah
- Ainsley Maitland-Niles
- Nicolas Pepe
- Joe Willock
- Mohamed Elneny
- David Luiz
- Alex Runarsson
Notes on the XI:
- Left Out: Reiss Nelson, Lucas Torreira, Sead Kolasinac, William Saliba, Mesut Özil, Mattéo Guendouzi, Cedric Soares
- Injured: Sokratis, Emile Smith Rowe, Shkodran Mustafi, Pablo Mari, Gabriel Martinelli & Calum Chambers.
- The formation has been set since Project Restart and there is no reason to change it now, especially facing a dangerous Liverpool side. Likewise, the first XI is fairly set until Mustafi and Mari return from injury and challenge for one the three centerback positions.
- The only change from the West Ham win is Tierney in for Kolasinac, as was the intended starting XI before Tierney got a late knock in warm-ups last weekend. Leno, Holding, and Saka all started midweek, but everyone on the bench played a role in the Carabao Cup as well, except for new keeper Runarsson. Some players will simply have to start-sub-start over the course 3-match weeks this season.
- With Luiz back from injury he can sit on the bench as the backup CB, resting Sead until the Cup tie against Liverpool. Since Maitland-Niles can provide cover for both wing-back positions, I’d imagine Cedric is held back another match after his slight knock and brought back into the 18 for Thursday.
- Until we see what new arrivals the club can sign before the window closes, we have a pretty good idea of the first XI and second XI. But it’s important to have that depth and get them all minutes as much as Arteta can, as between Premier League weekend matches and Cup/Europa League ties midweek it’s going to be a crammed schedule for a while. Which has to also consider two upcoming international breaks with three matches each. Which squad’s fitness and depth can hold up the best will likely go a long way towards how clubs far in the league and knockout competitions.
How to watch
Monday (9/28) at 3:00 pm ET / 12:00 pm PT on Peacock.