Arsenal will face Premier League relegation battlers Leeds United tonight at the Emirates in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup.
The team news indicates that Arsenal have no new injuries concerns following their 3-1 win over Aston Villa, with Kieran Tierney still a doubt after missing the game on Friday due to an ankle problem and Granit Xhaka being a long term absentee.
Mikel Arteta will be likely to rotate his team given that they have a tough match against Leicester City on the weekend, so he will want his squad to have a full week of rest where possible. Leicester will likely be the leggier of the two by the time the weekend comes, with The Foxes facing Brighton on Wednesday on top of the extra fixtures they play due to European commitments, where they have not been afforded the luxury of rotation.
With that in mind, club captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette are likely to make way in the starting xi, along with most of the other starters from Friday’s win. The other senior player from Friday’s win, Thomas Partey, is also likely to be rested.
Bernd Leno is expected to return to the starting xi for the first time since Arsenal’s 3-0 win over AFC Wimbledon in the previous round. The likes of Martin Odegaard and Nicolas Pepe are also likely to return to the xi as well.
Depending on how far he decides to rotate he may even choose to give some minutes to youngsters such as Gabriel Martinelli, who hasn’t scored since a 3-1 win over Crystal Palace at the back end of last season, and Eddie Nketiah, who spent time on loan with Leeds while they were in the Championship.
Arteta will most likely seek to give minutes to players in his squad who have not featured often this season and to ones who he will want to keep sharp for coming off the bench.
So here’s our predicted line-up:
Arsenal will revert back to a 4-2-3-1 in this game, recognising that they will not need to be as defensively sound structurally as they were on Friday.
The four of the back five will change with just Nuno Tavares keeping his spot in preparation for Tierney’s return to action on Saturday.
Acknowledging that the visitors will also be likely to rotate and recognising the defensive frailties currently plaguing Marcelo Bielsa’s side in the Premier League, Arteta will deploy a more progressive midfield pivot in the form of Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Odegaard, with Emile Smith Rowe keeping his place in front of them in order to help win the game early on.
Pepe, Martinelli and Nketiah will make up the front three, with senior players likely to come on later in the game if the result is it not going there way.
The game kicks off at 19:45 tonight.