Arsenal have earned their first win since November 1st and are playing for a chance to win 2 in a row in the Premier League for the first time since the opening two matches of the season when Arsenal beat Fulham and West Ham.
Last time out against Chelsea. Arsenal deployed a front 4 nearly filled with energetic, hungry, and determined youth players, mixed with the veteran leadership of Lacazette. From the first whistle, Martinelli, Saka and Smith Rowe were chomping at the bit and off to the races, running down just about every ball in their vicinities. Their tempo was raised and with it, the rest of the team followed suit.
Suddenly, even Granit Xhaka was looking to play fast and zip things around. It was everything Arsenal fans were looking for, and it reset the tone for what this side should be capable of consistently producing.
Couple this with the return of players like Aubameyang, Partey and Gabriel, and you may start to find that balance between youth players looking to get after things and scrap, and veteran experience to help control a match and balance everything out.
It’s this balance that Arsenal fans will be looking for once more against a Brighton side that has had Arsenal’s number consistently in the past. Check out today’s blog to learn a bit more about that.
The question becomes, who should Arteta turn to or should he change anything at all? Before we get to that, let’s look at the team news.
Has tested positive for COVID-19 and is isolating according to UK Government and Premier League protocols. We will continue to monitor and support Gabriel, and we are hoping he will be available again after our next two matches.
Left thigh. Thomas has progressed well since the injury on 6 December. He has started to train outside and will continue with his daily assessments and monitoring.
Since feeling unwell, David has returned to outside training and is due to re-join the full squad on Thursday (31 December).
Since feeling unwell, Willian has returned to outside training and is due to re-join the full squad on Thursday (31 December).
Gabriel testing positive for Covid-19 is a real blow and it means that he will have to miss the next few matches. Arsenal are hoping that’s just the next two — Brighton and West Brom. Partey is a little tougher to figure out. Him being back training outside is a great sign, but it seems like he won’t be available for tomorrow as he “continues” with his daily assessments. To me that sounds like much of the same.
If there is one major positive here, besides no Luiz and Willian for you cynical fans, it’s that Aubameyang is not on the list. After suffering a small injury he missed out on Everton, Manchester City, and Chelsea. Him being back could be a boost to the side if Arteta looks to use it.
This is the lineup that Arteta could very well select. It is almost identical to the side that Arteta picked Chelsea, but it has included Aubameyang in the side over Lacazette. Not through any fault in Lacazette’s play against Chelsea, he was quite decent, but simply because I am not sure you start Lacazette over a healthy Aubameyang almost ever.
With Gabriel out, I think the start will once again go to Pablo Mari and Rob Holding who kept Chelsea at bay for most the match, including no shots on goal through 81 minutes.
The one question many will ask is, why Bellerin? It’s a fair question and I believe the answer lies within the formation. AMN played very well in his two appearances, both within a 3-4-3 formation. The first match that Arsenal turn to a 4-back system requiring a ‘true right back’, Arteta calls Bellerin back to the starting lineup. Personally, I would like to see AMN get a shot as the right back, but it doesn’t seem as though it is in the cards at the moment. To add to this, Bellerin played a fairly impressive game against Chelsea, despite what many will try to convince you of.
The midfield has maintained its 3 and honestly, I don’t believe that three should change until Partey comes back. I know Elneny looked a bit rough at moments, but he has proven himself to be a good partner in the midfield and has been a major factor in Arsenal’s two most impressive wins. When it comes to ESR, it’s obvious. The kid was fantastic, he was everywhere no one else for Arsenal was, and he deserves another shot.
Up front, I am keeping the energetic and impressive duo of Saka and Martinelli to press, press, press, but adding in a new element of Aubameyang. There are certainly aspects of Lacazette’s game that Aubameyang can’t quite mimic, but it’s hard to imagine that Aubameyang is removed completely after holding up the Arsenal team’s attack for two years. He has struggled to get service and it has shown, maybe that changes in this new Gunner formula.
There are a few variables I could foresee, such as AMN for Bellerin, but the most possible one would be the swapping of Martinelli and Aubameyang. If Arteta really wants a striker that leads the press and can drop into the midfield for 70 minutes of rampant, non-stop footballing, it’s hard to imagine that is something Aubameyang can do. By putting Martinelli down the middle you get that, while putting Aubameyang back into his left wing role where he has had a lot of success. Just food for thought…
It will be interesting to see what is actually selected.
For the first time in a long time, I feel confident going into the match. I had some confidence for Tottenham, but that’s mostly just NLD confidence and backing your team, which isn’t quite the same. This is a confidence that comes from excitement at the notion of seeing that Arsenal once more. The Arsenal we saw against Chelsea was fun, exciting, and effective — and I expect to see it once again.
I think the match itself will be fairly even. If you told me it was 50-50% possession stats and both teams had 13 shots, I would have no trouble believing you. So what this is going to come down to is… maths. No, thats not right…efficiency.
The team that gets out of the gates faster and takes advantages of their chances first will win. I think this young Arsenal selection has this ability in droves. The moment the whistle blows, they will be off to the races running things down and setting up their traps with the press. I’m not sure one goal will be enough though so I just have to tip Arsenal’s individual quality as being a slight difference maker.
Prediction: 1-2 Arsenal