Arsenal face Burnley Saturday morning at the Emirates Stadium and will welcome back two injured players. Theo Walcott and Yaya Sanogo will both feature on the bench this weekend. Sanogo picked up a hamstring injury at the end of August and hasn’t featured since, while Walcott should feature in Saturday’s game at some point, after tearing his ACL against Tottenham in January. There are fitness doubts over Kieran Gibbs after he was taken off against Sunderland with a hip injury. It seems unlikely that he will play. This weekend’s game is too soon for both Abou Diaby and Serge Gnabry, who are either a week or two away from fitness.
Arsenal will look to build on their current two game winning streak and add another clean sheet. There has been much talk of Arsenal starting to rejuvenate and kick-start their season. A lack of confidence has been a continuous thread of conversation this season, and consecutive wins will slowly start to alleviate and chip away at low confidence. A clean sheet in this weekend’s match might prove vital to the makeshift back-four’s confidence and could prove vital for the rest of the season.
Here is Arsenal’s possible starting 11:
Goalkeeper – Szczesny
Wojciech will continue to start and look to add a clean sheet to his small list of them this season. Look for him to eliminate any rash decisions from his game, for example when he came out last week and inexplicably headed the ball directly to an opponent who faced an open net. Luckily he missed.
Right Back – Bellerin
Hector Bellerin will once again be called upon. He has looked solid and reliable so far this season. He speed has absolutely proved to be a defensive asset.
Center Back – Chambers & Mertesacker
With Gibbs most likely sidelined with a hip injury, Nacho Monreal will move back into his natural left back spot. This means that Calum Chambers moves from the right back position to center back, starting next to Per Mertesacker. Chambers has looked more assured at this position and Mertesacker’s performances have slowly but surely been improving the past couple weeks.
Left Back – Monreal
He moves back to his natural position. Monreal is the best crosser on the team; so don’t be surprised to see a lot of attacking movements coming from the left side. He has been reliable defensively this season, and his commitment cannot be questioned.
Defensive Mid – Arteta
Mikel Arteta showed his value to the team last week. He put in a calming and reassured performance, easily moving the ball around the pitch. Despite his increasing age showing this season, Arteta is Arsenal’s best leader and most valuable asset in midfield. Of all the midfielders in the squad, no other player can replicate what Arteta brings to the squad.
Center Mid – Ramsey
Aaron Ramsey did not start last week, which was somewhat of a surprise. His form this season has been below average, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mathieu Flamini or Jack Wilshere start here instead. However, after having a week off, one would hope that Ramsey can slowly start to rediscover his form. This weekend may be the perfect opportunity for him to do so.
Attacking Mid – Wilshere
Last week Alexis Sanchez started in this position and was phenomenal as usual. However Wilshere is returning from suspension and has been one of the few bright spots of the season so far. It is possible that Alexis still starts here with Wilshere playing next to him. This would allow Santi Cazorla and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to start out wide. I would be surprised if this happened though, especially with players starting to return to form.
Right Wing – Alexis
He may line up in this position, but don’t be fooled. Alexis has a free role in the squad meaning he can freely roam, as he likes. His defensive effort isn’t matched by anyone in the squad nor is his individual effort in attack. He sometimes holds the ball a little too long, but it is hard to fault him considering how many games he has bailed the Gunners out of this season.
Left Wing – Cazorla
Like Alexis, he too will roam freely. His form has been improving over the past couple weeks. He is less affective out wide, but there are more effective central players than Cazorla. He will always drift from the left to the center of the field, in a number 10 like role. Theo Walcott could make an appearance late in the game for Cazorla.
Striker – Welbeck
Danny Welbeck’s effort and commitment cannot be questioned. He just has not received the necessary service from his midfielders. Too often does he find himself isolated up front, too much is asked of him to create on his own. He is more than capable of doing this, but its unfair to think that he can do this for an entire game. Sanogo is back in the squad, but he is behind Welbeck in the pecking order. Depending on the score, Sanogo could come in to replace Welbeck or come in to play as a second striker with Welbeck. The 4-4-2 has been brought up by Wenger in the past couple weeks, and is something that he went to last season with Giroud and Sanogo, late in games.