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Calum Chambers (knee) remains out for Arsenal ahead of their trip to Manchester City, while it remains to be seen if Lucas Torreira, Cedric Soares and Granit Xhaka are fit after they failed to feature against Brentford in the Gunners’ final behind-closed-doors friendly – although Mikel Arteta did say on Monday afternoon that “so far everybody is okay”.
Since Arteta first took charge of the Gunners in Gameweek 19, five players have started every match in which they have been available: Xhaka, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Bernd Leno, David Luiz and Mesut Ozil.
Those players may again form the spine of Arteta’s side at the Etihad but there are certainly no guarantees after a three-month break, particularly with the fixtures coming thick and fast.
The Arsenal head coach indeed said on Monday that the Gunners will “have to use” their younger players with the schedule the way it is, and the likes of Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock and Bukayo Saka have featured a lot in recent kickabouts with Charlton and Brentford.
Saka has played mostly at left-back this season but it has been Kieran Tierney and Hector Bellerin who have been the most-used pairing in Arsenal’s recent friendlies, with Saka trialled in more advanced positions.
Pablo Mari impressed on his league debut in Gameweek 29 but Shkodran Mustafi had previously been in good form under the new regime and only dropped out of the side through injury in March.
The German has also been paired with David Luiz over the last week, with the latter moving back over to the left-hand-side of defence.
Matteo Guendouzi, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Willock or Saka could get a look-in in central midfield if Xhaka isn’t fit or if Ozil is preserved for the clash with Brighton, while Nelson, Saka and Gabriel Martinelli are alternatives to Nicolas Pepe further forward.
It appears likely that we’ll see Aubameyang on the flank again as he has been operating in those wide positions in the two aforementioned behind-closed-doors matches, so it may be a straight shootout between Eddie Nketiah and Alexandre Lacazette up top.
Nketiah had started all three matches between Gameweeks 26-29 and his mobility may be a better fit for a game in which the Gunners will have to do a lot of off-the-ball work, although it seems certain that the two positional rivals will share game-time over the coming month.
Predicted Lineup: 4-2-3-1
Leno; Bellerin, Mustafi, Luiz, Tierney; Ceballos, Xhaka; Aubameyang, Ozil, Pepe; Nketiah.