The North London Derby is upon us. We’re anxious, excited, tentative and giddy. It’s the fixture Arsenal fans look for when they’re announced and finally it’s here. This is the predicted lineup.
Well, well, well. Would you look at that? In the words of Bill Leslie, ‘do not scratch your eyes’. Arsenal have (take a deep breath) everyone fit and available to face Tottenham on Sunday.
It’s unheard of. Mikel Arteta can select from his entire batch of 2021/22 players for the visit of Spurs and nobody can quite believe it. Scribble this day down in your diary.
One name that most won’t want to see scribbled down, however, is that of Granit Xhaka. The most divisive figure perhaps in Arsenal’s history is back from suspension and in many peoples’ eyes straight back into the starting lineup for Sunday.
Arsenal predicted lineup vs Tottenham: Will Granit Xhaka partner Thomas Partey in the 4-2-3-1 and will it be Nicolas Pepe or Emile Smith Rowe?
After three wins on the bounce in all competitions without a goal conceded there are very strong claims not to fix that which isn’t broken. While that isn’t exactly tearing up trees, it’s nonetheless brought moderate success over the past few weeks and with a manager so keen on continuity that he went full first team against AFC Wimbledon, perhaps it’s not as cut and dry as we think.
Elsewhere in the squad there are some interesting choices at hand: does derby specialist Alexandre Lacazette come into the side and who of the front men will drop out should Xhaka be reinstated?
Nicolas Pepe and Emile Smith Rowe are arguably vying for a spot in the team is Xhaka comes in and the 4-2-3-1 returns, while it could be a distinctly more aggressive approach if Thomas Partey keeps his spot in the single pivot with Martin Odegaard and Smith Rowe as duel No. 10s.
There is a lot to ponder, none of which matters in the manager’s eyes. He’s going to pick what he feels is right. So, which of the forwards will be taking up the false nine role for this one?
Ha. We joke. Maybe.
Goalkeeper & Defenders
Aaron Ramsdale (GK) – It is him. Without any doubt whatsoever. Being given the night off in the Carabao Cup with Bernd Leno in goal and Karl Hein on the bench, any uncertainties over whether or not he is the number on can be firmly tucked into bed.
Takehiro Tomiyasu (RB) – Would you like to win a header, Mr Kane? You might need to look elsewhere. A superb start to life at Arsenal for Tomiyasu is set to continue as he gets a taste of one of the fiercest rivalries in the country.
Ben White (CB) – White will need to find a better balancing act than he did at Turf Moor where his passing was lacking and his defending was stout. Sure to start in this one after being given midweek off, a commanding display is sorely craved.
Gabriel (CB) – The battle between Gabriel and Kane is set to be an engrossing one. In the previous meeting at the Emirates it was the Brazilian who came out on top, and with Kane liking to drop even deeper than usual he will have to get his bearings right to know when to track and when to drop off.
Kieran Tierney (LB) – Looking to have as much of the ball as possible, Tierney will find himself in the usual auxiliary left-winger slot more often than not. It could be Emerson or Tanganga in the opposing right-back position this time.
Tierney’s trademark tap and push of the ball to sprint beyond his marker on the touchline was how Odegaard was set up for the equaliser last season. Another one of those wouldn’t go amiss.
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