Despite many expressing their reservations about Arsenal’s ability to mount a serious title challenge, the Gunners have performed admirably so far in maintaining their hold at the summit of the Premier League table and now certainly have to be considered contenders to lift the title at the end of the season.
Arsene Wenger’s men now turn their attentions to the FA Cup (the last tournament in which they emerged victorious almost 8 years ago), by welcoming League One side Coventry City to the Emirates Stadium on Friday night, and the French manager will certainly take the opportunity to rest some his jaded stars, while giving a couple of fringe players a run-out.
Wojciech Szczesny has been in fine form for the Gunners this season and will certainly be handed a well deserved rest on Friday night with back-up custodian Lukasz Fabianski set to deputize for the Polish international in goal.
Club captain Thomas Vermaelen is still struggling with a knee injury and may not be fit in time for the clash, which could mean that the formidable partnership of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Kosicelny will continue at the heart of the Arsenal defence. Nacho Monreal has been preferred to Keiran Gibbs at left-back in the Premier League recently, but the Englishman should start against Coventry after shaking off a knock, while Carl Jenkinson also looks likely to be handed a place in the starting line-up, replacing Bacary Sagna at right-back.
Mikel Arteta and Theo Walcott are definitely ruled out of the clash due to injuries, while Aaron Ramsey is still a doubt due to a thigh problem. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain should make his first start in five months though, after returning from injury while young Serge Gnabry may retain his place in the starting lineup. Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla could be handed a breather, with Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky most likely replacing the duo in the middle of the park. Mathieu Flamini will be handed the task of doing the dirty-work in midfield.
Nicklas Bendtner and Yaya Sanogo are out with of the clash due to injuries, while Olivier Giroud will surely be handed a well deserved rest after his exertions in the Premier League, which means that Lukas Podolski could be leading the line for the Gunners.
Fabianski; Gibbs, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Jenkinson; Gnabry, Wilshere, Flamini, Rosicky, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Podolski
Despite a host of changes to the lineup in terms of personnel, Arsenal’s flexible squad means that the shape of the team should not change too much. Podolski will be a different proposition to Giroud up front, but the German international is more than capable of leading the line on his own.