Once again Arsenal responded after what seems like an endless supply of hurdles this season. After rescheduling for Liverpool the match was quickly upended with Granit Xhaka shown a red card midway through the first half. From there Mikel Arteta consolidated his defense which put on a clinic to hold Liverpool at Anfield. Now with AFCON absences, injuries, COVID cases, and a red card, Arsenal faces the North London Derby on just two days rest.
Tottenham enters the match on the back of elimination from the League Cup by Chelsea. Spurs lost the two-legged tie 3-0 on aggregate. Between the Carabao Cup matches, they had a late surge in the FA Cup last weekend to hold off the upset attempt by League One’s 21st place team Morecambe. In the league, however, Tottenham is currently on a streak of 8 matches unbeaten.
Besides the obvious bragging rights, fifth place in the Premier League is on the line Sunday. Both sides trail West Ham, but with games in hand. Arsenal needs to avoid a defeat in order to keep their advantage over Tottenham, who trail the Gunners by just two points but having played two matches less. With so maybe questions around the squad what will Mikel Arteta’s starting XI and bench look like this weekend?
- Bernd Leno
- Nuno Tavares
- Sead Kolasinac
- Rob Holding
- Charlie Patino
- Omar Hutchison
- Salah Oulad M’Hand
- Eddie Nketiah
- Mika Biereth
- Left Out: Cedric (injury status unknown as of publication), Arthur Okonkwo
- Out: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (AFCON), Mohamed Elneny (AFCON), Thomas Partey (AFCON), Pepe (AFCON), Pablo Mari (loan announcement to Udinese expected soon), Granit Xhaka (red card), Martin Odegaard (COVID)
- Clearly, this match could be called off and rescheduled at any moment. Arsenal does not have enough senior players for the starting XI and bench. However, if Smith Rowe and Tomiyasu are fit to start, personally, I’d rather proceed with the match than deal with another reschedule.
- The midfield is the only concern in that predicted starting XI. But being on the road I could see Arteta utilizing a move defensive position anyway which could play into Lacazette up top and Chambers sitting deep in front of the center back pairing.
- Saka should be okay following his substitute on Thursday, but if he hasn’t fully recovered in order to start by Sunday we would likely see Eddie Nketiah up top once again with Lacazette dropping behind him and Smith Rowe or Martinelli out on the right.
- If Arsenal has to dip further into the U23 squad Mikel Arteta could call upon players such as Omar Rekik (CB), George Lewis (Attacking Winger), Kido Taylor-Hart (Attacking Winger), or Ryan Alebiosu (Right-back). The youth revolution continues — even if it is by force.
How to watch
Sunday (1/16) at 11:30 pm ET / 8:30 am PT on Peacock Premium.
(Both the North London Derby & the Manchester City vs. Chelsea match are on Peacock Premium this weekend. Next season NBC really needs to figure out this system so people can avoid paying two services for one league.)
Arsenal - 1
Tottenham - 1
Arsenal are missing some key players and coming off one less day of rest. On the road, I think the Gunners are able to get away with a point and maintain their lead over Spurs. Fingers crossed Emile Smith Rowe is available to start and that Lacazette puts on a clinic.