Missing three of the side’s most important players (Aubameyang, Saka, and Tierney), Arsenal picked up a solid point against Manchester United and have now gone seven matches unbeaten in the Premier League. 17 points from a possible 21 has lifted the Gunners to within four points of fifth place and the Europa League spot.
Once again Bernd Leno and backline showcased their fine form, letting in just one goal in their last six league matches. Granit Xhaka controlled United’s midfield and Nicolas Pepe was the side’s best attacker (and unlucky not to get a goal along with Lacazette).
Up next is a trip to Wolves, who have fallen to 14th place in the Premier League. They are winless in their last eight league matches and at the moment look nothing like the attacking side we saw last season and the start of this campaign. Lately, they’ve been sitting more defensively and the Gunners should enter the match looking for three points.
The January transfer window closes tomorrow and while Arsenal have been busy this month, hopefully, we see at least one more move. Shkodran Mustafi has been linked with an exit to Liverpool (if so, it should be for a fee, not terminating his contract). Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Reiss Nelson both could use a loan for the second half of the season. They need minutes, and ideally starts, but unless someone is coming in with an attractive offer I’d wait and sell in the summer when Edu and Arteta can evaluate the entire squad heading into the 2021-22 season.
- Alexandre Lacazette
- Gabriel Martinelli
- Emile Smith Rowe
- Thomas Partey
- Granit Xhaka
- Cedric Soares
- David Luiz
- Alex Runarsson
- Left Out: Joe Willock, Calum Chambers, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Reiss Nelson, & Shkodran Mustafi
- Out: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (personal issue), Mat Ryan (hip), Pablo Mari (calf)
- Manchester United (Saturday), Wolves (Tuesday), & Aston Villa (Saturday). With the squad size, Arteta should rotate as much as he can to avoid fatigue and injury, as well as prioritize Aston Villa.
- Official team news should be out later on Monday. But for now, we will work under the idea that Aubameyang remains out due to his family issue and potential quarantine protocols, and Mari and Ryan are unavailable for selection as they recover from injuries.
- Lacazette appears to be okay after his late collision, but it’s hard to see him starting all three matches in this run. Perhaps the Wolves match is a good time to give Nketiah another go. Especially with Aubameyang out and considering we may need Eddie for some key matches in this second half of the season it would be nice for him to pick up a goal. His one and only Premier League goal came back on September 19th against West Ham.
- This should be the first start for Martin Odegaard, giving Emile Smith Rowe a rest. If Saka remains unavailable then I could see Martinelli back in, after he only made it through the first half against United. And everyone should brace themselves for a Willian start, it’s coming again, but who knows maybe he finally breaks out of this poor run of form since opening day.
- Can Arteta fully rotate the midfield and get away with it for a match? At certain points this season both Elneny and Ceballos were in fine form, but are clearly behind Xhaka and Partey at the moment. Considering Partey’s injuries this season there is no need to push for three matches in eight days, and I’d rather have him against Villa. It might be a bit of a gamble, but with Wolves’ recent form Elneny could sit back and allow Ceballos to push into the attack with Odegaard.
- Until Mari is fit, we are rotating with three center backs, as Mustafi looks likely to exit and Chambers the last resort at the moment. Gabriel comes in with either Holding or Luiz, saving the other for Villa, who will bring more in attack.
- It’s a strong bench, for either scenario in the second half. If Wolves have set up in a defensive formation, Lacazette, Pepe, Smith Rowe, and Martinelli are all great options to keep the pressure on late.
How to watch
Tuesday (2/2) at 1:00 pm ET / 10:00 am PT on NBCSN.
Arsenal - 2
Wolves - 0