With so much riding on the outcome Thursday, Mikel Arteta described it best in the post-match comments with ‘devastated’. Needing just a single goal to advance on away goals, Aubameyang hit the post twice, but it wasn’t to be Arsenal’s day. Kieran Tierney was tossed in after an injury to Granit Xhaka in warmups and even Lacazette came in late despite Arteta noting after the match that he hadn’t fully returned to training yet.
The Gunners went farther in the Europa League this season than last year’s Round of 32 elimination to Olympiacos, but this was still a tough ending. There is a lot of roster work to be done in the summer transfer window, but before we get there, a chance to close the Premier League season out on a high note. Four matches remain, three highly winnable, and the opportunity to get a 15th league win on Sunday to top last year’s mark.
West Brom isn’t mathematically eliminated yet, but a loss on Sunday would ensure they are in the Championship next season. While it’s been a forgettable campaign, they have had a decent run coming into this match - wins over Chelsea and Southampton and a pair of draws against Wolves and Aston Villa - over their last five games. Their fate is on the line (even though they’d still need a lot of help) and Arsenal is looking for a response after the European exit on Thursday.
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
- Alexandre Lacazette
- Emile Smith Rowe
- Bukayo Saka
- Thomas Partey
- Pablo Mari
- Hector Bellerin
- Bernd Leno
- Left Out: Kieran Tierney, Reiss Nelson, & Alex Runarsson
- Out: David Luiz & Granit Xhaka
- At the time of writing a full injury report for Sunday’s match isn’t available, but it’s safe to assume that David Luiz is out. Whatever occurred with Granit Xhaka must have been serious enough for him and the coaching staff to pull him from a must-win match. As such, I’d hope they wouldn’t push him back into the starting XI a few days later when other options are available. Similarly, there is no need to have Kieran Tierney start twice in four days after the injuries he has sustained since joining Arsenal. Arsenal needs a response Sunday, but not that bad.
- West Brom at home, coming off Thursday, Mikel Arteta might as well rest a majority of his starters. Let’s see who steps up at the weekend and then build a stronger side against Chelsea next Wednesday. There is no need to risk Aubameyang, Lacazette, Partey, or Saka from the start.
- What everyone will be happy to see is Martinelli from the start. Even if he hasn’t had the same impact this season as last, highly due to injuries and reduced playing time, he should be a larger influence on Arsenal next year and typically brings energy and drive to the attack. Pairing him with Nketiah and Willian, might not be an exciting lineup to see Sunday, but it’ll keep Aubameyang, Saka, and Pepe fresh for the Chelsea match.
- While I’m pushing for resting the majority of Thursday’s starting XI, Elneny deserves this start regardless. I had him in my lineup for the Europa League match alongside Partey, but his effort against Newcastle should see him back in Arteta’s 11 Sunday. Normally, I wouldn’t play Ceballos, after his red card and openly looking forward to his exit, but unless Arteta is starting Chambers in midfield, I can’t see any other outcome. West Brom could be his final start in an Arsenal shirt.
- Arteta’s comments indicate that Cedric should be back and available, so he returns to the left side of the backline with Gabriel next to him. Holding keeps his spot, as we now begin to look towards next season and wonder how Edu/Arteta will handle Luiz, Mavropanos, and Saliba this summer. Calum Chambers likely gets the nod at right-back, but again the question is what will Arsenal’s right-back depth chart look like next season? Will Hector Bellerin leave as expected? Surely Arteta doesn’t need bothCedric and Chambers as backup right-backs and neither is the starter the club needs moving forward.
How to watch
Sunday (5/9) at 2:00 pm ET / 11:00 am PT on NBC.
Arsenal - 2
West Brom - 0
Who is in your starting XI for the weekend and what is your scoreline prediction as the Arsenal look to finish the league season on a high note?