Arsenal will face the most difficult test so far to their incredible start to the season as they travel to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United.
The Gunners are the only side in the country with a 100 per cent record left after beating Aston Villa 2-1 on Wednesday. However, after failing to bring in the man who scored against them Douglas Luiz, Mikel Arteta’s side now find themselves slightly short in terms of depth in midfield following injuries to Oleksandr Zinchenko, Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny.
That leaves the Spaniard with plenty of difficult decisions to make in what is his toughest fixture of the campaign. Luckily, we will be going along with football.london‘s Arsenal writers are on hand to help him out by offering their suggestions.
Tom Canton – Arsenal writer
The injuries are beginning to hit the club and the absence of Thomas Partey and Oleksandr Zinchenko in particular have occurred at the worst time. A match against a Manchester United side that 3 weeks ago looked a comically simpler task than it does today is the challenge.
Albert Sambi Lokonga will face a tougher test four days after his strong display at home against Aston Villa. Arsenal will need all their defensive discipline against a motivated Manchester United side.
Odegaard’s fitness is a concern and even if there was a slim chance he could start, risking him might be a worse decision. Especially when you have quality like Emile Smith Rowe and Fabio Vieira available and there I’d start the former with the latter not needing his first start and debut in this game.
The front three is where this game will be decided for Arsenal. If they can score goals away against Manchester United it will be not only a great statement but evidence that the squad and starting eleven is moving in the direction we’ve needed it to for some time.
Canton’s Arsenal XI vs Manchester United – Ramsdale; White; Saliba; Gabriel; Tierney; Lokonga; Xhaka; Smith-Rowe; Saka; Martinelli; Jesus.
Kaya Kaynak – Chief Arsenal correspondent
While I think Matt Turner’s background shows he can rise to tough moments. if Aaron Ramsdale is fit enough, then I think it’s safest not to risk giving the US international his debut.
I’d love to see Oleksandr Zinchenko return to XI, but Arteta’s early indications are that he won’t be fit, so Kieran Tierney continues for me. Over on the right even though it appears Ben White should be fit for the game, I think I would go for Takehiro Tomiyasu just for that added defensive solidity and aerial superiority if Cristiano Ronaldo starts.
I liked what Arteta did in bringing Granit Xhaka a little deeper, on the whole, to help out Albert Sambi Lokonga in the six role, and for now, I don’t think I’d change that for Old Trafford.
Martin Odegaard is so important that I would risk throwing him in even if he’s not fully fit myself, with the front three in front of him staying the same and hopefully continuing the devastating streak that they have managed in recent weeks.
Kaynak’s Arsenal XI vs Manchester United – Ramsdale; Tomiyasu, Saliba, Gabriel, Tierney; Sambi Lokonga, Xhaka; Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli; Jesus.