Monday was a tough match for the Arsenal, but not unexpected. Mikel Arteta has made a lot of progress over the past few months. Several players have improved, the team is overall better defensively, and he’s found a formation that works in most situations. Liverpool at Anfield was always going to be a tall ask. Trying to get three results in a row over them would have been massive.
Instead, we created limited chances, scored just one, and a few individual errors decided the match. But now it’s time to rotate the XI and travel back up to Liverpool as the two sides face off again on Thursday, this time in the Carabao Cup for a spot in the quarterfinals. With another match coming up on Sunday as well, we should see a lot of changes in the starting lineup. Who gets the start in midfield? And could we see two different debuts?
Predicted Starting XI
- Alexandre Lacazette
- Ainsley Maitland-Niles
- Granit Xhaka
- David Luiz
- Kieran Tierney
- Bernd Leno
Notes on the XI:
- Left Out: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mesut Özil, Dani Ceballos, Lucas Torreira, Mattéo Guendouzi, Hector Bellerin & Rob Holding
- Injured: Sokratis, Emile Smith Rowe, Shkodran Mustafi, Pablo Mari, Gabriel Martinelli & Calum Chambers.
- With Pepe, Nketiah, Nelson & Saka all not starting on Monday, they would be expected starters on Thursday. To get all four into the starting XI, Saka plays as left wingback and Nelson is pushed to the left of the front three. Perhaps this isn’t the game, but I’d like to see Arteta try Pepe on the left to allow him to cross the ball more freely – even if just an experiment for a half or 20 minutes.
- Willock definitely gets another Cup start Thursday, but who should pair with him? Elneny & Xhaka started on Monday, but Ceballos subbed in for Xhaka. While Elneny is the only player who went the full 90 of the four I still think he’s the best option here. Have him sit back in front of the backline and allow Willock to run into the attack at times. That keeps Xhaka and Ceballos ready to start on Sunday against Sheffield United.
- Hoping that Cedric is fit able to start at right wingback to in order to rest Bellerin and AMN. Then for the backline you’d imagine Kolasinac and Gabriel come back in. I’d rather have had Gabriel for Monday and Sunday, but now it’s hard to see him starting both, or forcing Holding or Luiz to start all three.
- Which leaves two roles and potentially debuts for William Saliba and Alex Runarsson. Runarsson seems like the safer pick. It would be nice to see Saliba before the international break, especially to keep players rested for Sunday. Considering it should be Liverpool’s second eleven I think it’s time to test him.
How to watch
Thursday (10/1) at 2:45 pm ET / 11:45 am PT on ESPN+.