Saturday’s kick-off can’t come quick enough. After a brutal three-match stretch that saw Arsenal lose control of fourth place, Wednesday’s 4-2 result at Chelsea was as entertaining as it was unexpected. And while we want the players rested, how many fans have been itching to see the Gunners back on the pitch for more of that display. Now level on points with Spurs and up against Manchester United the pressure remains, but the Emirates should be electric.
Prior to their 3-2 loss at Old Trafford back in December, Arsenal had gone five matches unbeaten against United. Over that stretch, the Gunners have three wins, two draws, and only allowed one goal. Now coming off the 4-0 thrashing by Liverpool, Manchester United find themselves in a must-win situation. Behind Arsenal and Tottenham by three points and having played one more match than both, a failure to win on Saturday probably puts them out of contention for fourth.
Make sure to check out the two-part Q&A we did with SB Nation’s Manchester United site The Busby Babe as we discuss the upcoming transfer window, Rangnick, ten Hag, and predicting Saturday’s match - Part One & Part Two.
- Alexandre Lacazette
- Gabriel Martinelli
- Albert Sambi Lokonga
- Bernd Leno
- Miguel Azeez
- Takehiro Tomiyasu
- Omari Hutchinson
- Left Out: Kieran Tierney (injury) & Thomas Partey (injury)
- With no new injuries, why would you change anything after that performance against Chelsea? After spending most of their season on the bench, Eddie Nketiah, Mohamed Elneny, and Rob Holding came in and immediately looked exactly what Arsenal had been missing the previous few matches. While Ben White’s foray on the right only strengthens his impressive debut season for the Gunners. Arteta should roll out the exact same starting XI. Reward them for the win on Wednesday and ride the momentum.
- Saturday could see the return of Tomiyasu, but not in the starting lineup. In Arteta’s latest comments on the right-back, he noted, “If he trains today and he feels good then he will be available tomorrow yes.” While you wouldn’t want to immediately toss him back into the action, getting him on the bench and perhaps 15-20 minutes later in the match would be great for the final run-in. And with how Ben White performed filling in on the right, you’d favor him to put in a similar shift against United.
- While I didn’t see putting four past Chelsea, I was hoping (maybe expecting) to see Elneny give Arsenal stability. And while Manchester United’s attack isn’t as dangerous as Chelsea's, he remains the ideal replacement for Thomas Partey. If fit, I’d keep him in the starting role for the remainder of the season, leaving Martin Odegaard to do what he does best:
- If Tomiyasu is back, then we have the best version of Arsenal’s bench we can get for what’s left this season. The attack has plenty of options between Lacazette, Martinelli, and Pepe, but the defense will lack center-back coverage while Holding starts. As Tomiyasu gets back to full fitness he will be able to allow White to shift inside as well as play as the right CB in a back three.
How to watch
Saturday (4/23) at 7:30 am ET / 4:30 am PT on USA Network.
Arsenal - 2
Manchester United - 1