Arsenal face Hull this Saturday at the Emirates Stadium in a rematch of the FA Cup Final won by Arsenal in dramatic fashion. Unfortunately for Arsenal, the international break has been less than kind to them, with no less than three players either returning back injured or had been found injured upon arrival at their national teams training ground. Of these three, Mesut Özil and Laurent Koscielny will not feature this Saturday, it’s not completely clear when either will return. Tomas Rosicky, however, should be available for Saturday, contrary to earlier reports.
There is some good news though, as Mikel Arteta will be welcomed back to the squad on Saturday. Three other players returned from injury, but Saturday will be too early for Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott, and Serge Gnabry. Both Walcott and Gnabry will feature for the reserve side Friday evening to gain further match fitness. Ramsey will be in the squad for the Champions League match against Anderlecht Wednesday, according to Arsene Wenger.
Fortunately, Arsenal has the depth to deal with their injuries in the attacking department. However, they lack numbers defensively and will miss Mathieu Debuchy and Koscielny due to injury, and Calum Chambers to suspension after picking up five yellow cards in the league.
Here is Arsenal’s possible starting 11 including their makeshift back four.
Goalkeeper – Szczesny
Wojciech Szczesny will be looking to claim only his second clean sheet in the league this year.
Right Back – Bellerin
Hector Bellerin will start in place of Debuchy, who has a long-term injury, and Chambers, who will also be missed at center back. Bellerin is a threat going forward, having the intelligence to make dangerous runs and create from out wide, something that was evident during this past summers Emirates Cup. His defensive ability has come in to question the past season, and is thought to be the reason why he didn’t make his debut sooner. However against Dortmund he was far from the weakest link in the back four.
Center backs – Mertesacker and Monreal
Per Mertesacker should be fit and energized after two weeks off due to his retirement from international duty. Nacho Monreal will feature in a makeshift back four. He featured at center back this summer at both the Emirates Cup and Arsenal’s visit to New York against the Red Bulls. Wenger has referred to Monreal as his emergency fourth center back, and due to injury to Koscielny and Chambers’ suspension, Wenger will have to act on this claim.
Left Back – Gibbs
Kieran Gibbs returns from international duty with England after having not played for England since 2011. Gibbs’ form has been excellent this year, pushing both Luke Shaw and Leighton Baines for the starting spot at left back in the England squad. Look for Gibbs to keep this form up as long as he stays healthy.
Defensive Midfield – Flamini
Mathieu Flamini will again start in place of Arteta. Arteta will be in the squad Saturday but after just returning from injury, it would be surprising to see Arteta start. Look for Flamini to start Saturday and Arteta to start on Wednesday.
Central Midfield – Wilshere
Jack Wilshere will reassume his role in central midfield and continue his excellent form. Wilshere received praise for his play this week for England. He has definitely been a bright spot for Arsenal so far this year. After years of injuries, it looks like Wilshere is finally starting to find his form and confidence.
Attacking Midfield – Cazorla
Santi Cazorla will replace Özil in the number 10 role. This is Cazorla’s most natural position. Cazorla can pick out a pass, although not quite like his German teammate, and he is more than willing to shoot with both feet. He provides a little bit more of a drive, but lacks some pace compared to Özil. Cazorla’s inclusion will change Arsenal’s midfield balance although, not for the worst.
Right Wing – Chamberlain
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will continue to start on the right for Arsenal, his pace and directness always being an asset. With Walcott coming back from injury, Chamberlain may soon see more time in the middle. Saturday is too soon for Walcott though, allowing Chamberlain to continue his presence on the right.
Left Wing – Podolski
Alexis Sanchez would normally start here, but due to the fact that Alexis had a match Tuesday with Chile, Saturday may come to soon, due to long distance traveling. This is a perfect game for Lukas Podolski to again prove to Wenger that he deserves more involvement. There has been grumbling in the media about Podolski’s unhappiness with his role in the team. This could be Podolski’s chance, again, to prove his worth.
Striker – Welbeck
Danny Welbeck has been a welcome addition to the squad since his arrival and had a successful week with England, picking up a goal for them. With Olivier Giroud and Yaya Sanogo still hurt, Wenger has little choice.