After the 1-2 victory playing away against Aston Villa, it appears that Arsenal’s manager, Arsene Wenger, will have to make at least one substitution in the lineup for the match against Fulham next Saturday. The left back Nacho Monreal injured his knee in the second half of the match, and although it isn’t confirmed, it may be a broken metatarsal, which would mean at least three months of inactivity. The obvious replacement is Kieran Gibbs, who returned from a calf injury and substituted Monreal last Monday.
The goalkeeper and the rest of the defense will surely be the usual ones, who’ve played in the last matches: Szczesny in the goal, Sagna in the right back and Mertesacker and Koscielny in the centre back.
In the defensive midfield, although it seemed that Mikel Arteta would be fit for the match against the Villians, he didn’t even go to the substitute bench. The Spaniard midfielder had a calf strain on January 4 in the derby against Tottenham. Mathieu Flamini is the one who played in his position against Villa, since he’s also a strong defensive midfielder -even more defensive-minded than Arteta-, and he played a very good match. In my opinion, Arteta won’t play from the beginning, because if he’s recovering from an injury, Wenger won’t take any risk and he will at most put Arteta on the bench and let him play some minutes before the end of the match.
Another midfielder that in my opinion won’t play from the start is Aaron Ramsey. He’s recovering from a thigh issue, and although Wegner said that he could play against Aston Villa, the match was too soon for him and he didn’t even make the bench. As in the Arteta case, I don’t think the boss wants to take any risk by putting him in the lineup.
Jack Wilshere had a great match against Aston Villa, with one goal and one assist, and it’s a matter of fact that he’ll play from the beginning. Mesut Özil and Santiago Cazorla are very likely to start the match too, since Wenger usually relies on them.
The main question is about the other offensive midfielder. There are four possible choices: Gnabry (who started against Aston Villa), Rosicky (who substituted Gnabry on Monday and got a nose injury later), Oxlade-Chamberlain (who substituted Rosicky near the end of the match) and Podolski. It seems that Rosicky won’t be able to play against Fulham because of his nose injury, and Oxlade-Chamberlain played only a few minutes against Villa after a five-month knee injury, so it may be difficult for him to play from the beginning. Podolski would give more goal threat to the team than Gnabry, since he used to play as a forward, but in my opinion the boss wants to give confidence to Gnabry as the replacement for Walcott in the following matches.
Finally, Oliver Giroud will be the centre forward without any doubt. Even when many supporters don’t like his way of playing, he has always been Wenger’s choice, since he fits very well in his scheme. Furthermore, he made a great goal against Aston Villa after returning from an ankle injury and an illness.