After 10 days without a game and two fixture postponements, Arsenal are back in action when they face Brentford tomorrow afternoon.
Despite suffering a 3-1 loss at the hands of Manchester United in their last Premier League outing almost a fortnight ago, there is still a positive mood surrounding the Gunners at the moment and that is completely justified with six wins from seven games across all competitions at the start of the new season.
The incentive for Arsenal ahead of facing Brentford is that another victory will ensure they go into the first international break of the season leading the way at the top of the table – regardless of how Manchester City and Tottenham get on over the weekend.
As the north London outfit are well aware, winning at the Brentford Community Stadium is easier said than done and their task could be made all the more difficult with Oleksandr Zinchenko set to miss out through injury, according to the Ukraine national team.
The good news is that Mikel Arteta could welcome back Thomas Partey to the fold after four games on the sidelines and this could leave the Gunners manager facing somewhat of a selection headache when it comes to naming his line-up.
London’s Arsenal writers Kaya Kaynak, Tom Canton Tashan Deniran-Alleyne, Bailey Keogh and Chris Davison are on hand to step into the firing line and offer their assistance to Arteta by providing their say on who should start for the visitors in west London.
Arsenal’s strength in depth at the back is so strong that I think it’s worth making a few changes.
Mikel Arteta was oddly coy about Oleksandr Zinchenko and Ben White’s chances of making it for Sunday, but the fact that Takehiro Tomiyasu and Kieran Tierney are his backups means that I wouldn’t risk anything.
Throw in the fact that Tomiyasu is excellent in the air up against a striker like Ivan Toney and that makes even more sense.
In midfield, I again would opt for a cautious approach when it comes to the fitness of a player like Thomas Partey.
Up front, Emile Smith Rowe’s injury means that Gabriel Martinelli would start again for me, and although Marquinhos was good on his debut, I still wouldn’t change a thing in the front three that has started every Premier League game this season.
The blessing from Mikel Arteta’s press conference is learning that Ben White will be fit for the match.
The England international has been solid for the Gunners at right-back so far this season and his presence against the Brentford attackers will be key.
The team, with the players that are available, picks itself for me.
The potential return of Thomas Partey, who is fully integrated into first team training now, is a significant boost to the quality output from Arteta’s side.
Sambi Lokonga had deputised well against Aston Villa; however, he was exposed in the away trip to Manchester United.
Bukayo Saka needs to follow up his goal in the northwest with another here to get some momentum going especially with the exciting Marquinhos potentially showing he could push his teammate in the position.
Having been left out of the Brazil squad, Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus now need to continue their strong push to be part of Tite’s plans for the tournament.
Mikel Arteta wasn’t giving anything away in his pre-match press conference regarding team news, but just going off the Ukraine national team’s tweet about why Oleksandr Zinchenko won’t feature in their upcoming games, suggests he will not be available for Arsenal on Sunday.
Not that it’s too much of a problem as Kieran Tierney is more than a capable backup and the news that Ben White is fit means there doesn’t need to be wholesale changes in defence and I am inclined to resist the temptation to hand Takehiro Tomiyasu a start at right-back.
Not to slight Albert Sambi Lokonga whose strengths and weaknesses were on show at Old Trafford, but the Gunners are a totally different prospect with Thomas Partey in the side and he must start if passed fit.
Gabriel Jesus and Gabriel Martinelli are undroppable for me right now and despite Marquinhos‘ impressive showing on his debut against FC Zurich, it will take a lot more to displace Bukayo Saka who is showing signs of getting back to his best.
After a long Premier League break for the Gunners, It is important that Arteta field a strong team to regain momentum following the 3-1 defeat to Manchester United in the last fixture.
Due to the injuries suffered to White and Zinchenko, the defence picks itself with Tomiyasu and Tierney coming in to replace the full-backs.
Saliba and Gabriel maintain their defensive partnership.
With Partey back in full training, Arteta must start him to anchor the midfield with Xhaka and Odegaard on either side.
It may be a risk to immediately start Partey, but his influence on the team is too pivotal not to have him from the start in a tough away match.
Top scorer Gabriel Jesus should lead the line for Arsenal with Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka supporting him from the wing positions giving the Gunners the needed directness in wide areas.
As is always the case when I have to select my preferred starting eleven, I’m very much a believer in keeping it the same when things are going well.
The only obvious changes come at left-back and midfield.
With the news that Oleksandr Zinchenko could be out for two weeks, it’s comforting to know that we have a solid option in the form of Kieran Tierney to provide cover in the meantime.
The return of Thomas Partey is a much-needed boost.
It remains to be seen if Partey is fit enough to start tomorrow, but I would chuck him straight back into the mix if he is.
I think Ben White deserves to keep his place at right-back despite rumours of an injury, whilst William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes offer plenty of solidity in the heart of the defence.
In terms of the frontline, Martin Odegaard, Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Jesus and Gabriel Martinelli will be keen to put things right after lacking that killer instinct in front of goal at Old Trafford.
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