Mikel Arteta has made two changes to the Arsenal side that beat Brighton ahead of tonight’s heavily favourable clash against nailed-on relegation candidates West Bromwich Albion.
Dani Ceballos partners Granit Xhaka in central midfield instead of Mohamed Elneny, the other change sees in-form Alexandre Lacazette returning to the starting lineup ahead of Gabriel Martinelli.
It’s perhaps a bit harsh that Martinelli has been benched, but the Brazilian only recently returned from a lengthy knee injury, plus his absence is the one that allows Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to maintain a starting berth.
The decision to start Real Madrid loanee Ceballos over Elneny could be a smart one, the Gunners will surely dominate the possession against Sam Allardyce’s new side, meaning the Spaniard is arguably a better fit for this kind of opponent.
Take a look at the Gunners’ lineup below:
? Tonight’s team…
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) January 2, 2021
Here’s how some of the Arsenal faithful have reacted to Arteta’s teamsheet:
Gonna burn out Saka. Need to hook him at half time and give Pepe 45 minutes too. Good for both of them
— Thomas the Tank (@AFC_Eddie) January 2, 2021
No Willian means we smile
— Gally ™ (@AFCGally) January 2, 2021
Strong lineup, happy with that. No point overusing Martinelli at this point because it’ll just risk injury
— James. (@afcjxmes) January 2, 2021
No martinelli means no aggression and passion …. get ready for a boring game
— Drey (@GunnerTalker) January 2, 2021
Martinelli rightly rested, has played and given his all in back to back games, we would rue if he picked up a muscle injury because of overplaying him. Lets go ?
— Wayne Quinn (@WayneQuinn00) January 2, 2021
@atkinson03jack YES NO WILLIAN
— Ross (@AFCRBENSON) January 2, 2021
F**lish of Arteta to bench Martinelli for aubameyang
— #????????? ????? ???? ????????? (@Berry16_) January 2, 2021
Benching Martineli is wrong!
— Ki Jesseology (@NandiraJessy) January 2, 2021
Saka plays 90 mins in 10 of the last 11 games?
— Ahmed (@Ahmed91Gooner) January 2, 2021
Arsenal lost seven (failing to win in nine) of their 10 Premier League fixtures in the disastrous run before their crucial back-to-back wins against Chelsea and Brighton eased some pressure.
Regardless, there’s absolutely no excuse for the Gunners not to be beating the second-bottom Baggies comfortably tonight, especially as the west Midlands outfit have lost four of their last six – conceding sixteen times and scoring just four times.