Arsenal face Portsmouth in their FA Cup fifth-round tie on Monday night, and Mikel Arteta has made some interesting decisions with his starting XI.
The Gunners were left bitterly disappointed last week as they crashed out of the Europa League against Olympiacos at the Emirates.
With that chance of winning a trophy and qualifying for the Champions League gone, all their focus will now be on the top four in the Premier League as well as the FA Cup to ensure that they claim some silverware this season.
It won’t be easy in what could be a tricky Monday night trip to Portsmouth who will be desperate to pull off a major upset, but there is still plenty of quality in Arteta’s starting line-up that would suggest that Arsenal remain heavy favourites to advance.
The big selection news is that January loan signing Pablo Mari gets his first-team debut, as confirmed in the club’s tweet below, and he’ll partner David Luiz in the heart of the backline as Shkodran Mustafi drops out.
Youngsters Eddie Nketiah, Gabriel Martinelli, Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock and Bukayo Saka all get the nod as Arteta has gone for an inexperienced but talented XI, although the likes of Lucas Torreira, Luiz and Sokratis certainly give some balance to it.
Time will tell if it’s the right XI to get the job done and ensure that Arsenal advance to the next round, but Arteta hasn’t taken a major gamble with his bench as he’ll be able to call on the likes of Alexandre Lacazette, Nicolas Pepe and Dani Ceballos if required.
? Here's our @EmiratesFACup team news…
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) March 2, 2020