October 15, 2019, 7:41

Arsenal: Who will Unai Emery pick against Manchester United?

Arsenal: Who will Unai Emery pick against Manchester United?

In goal…

Although Bernd Leno may not be regarded as one of the league’s top goalkeepers, the German is one of just a handful of Arsenal players certain of selection this evening.

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In defence…

Despite a brief comeback cameo in the Carabao Cup in midweek, the trip to Old Trafford has come too soon for Hector Bellerin – the giveaway being his appearance in an U23 match this weekend. Nevertheless, might there be a change at right-back? Calum Chambers’ recent form, boasting assists and goals, could very conceivably see him oust the unconvincing Ainsley Maitland-Niles. But will Emery risk pitching the relatively-pedestrian Chambers directly against the jet-heeled Daniel James?

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At centre-half, where Chambers started the season for the win at Newcastle, David Luiz and Sokratis have bee paired for the last five games, but neither can be sure of retaining their place following the return of Rob Holding for 90 minutes against Nottingham Forest. His instant Premier League recall would be a bold call. But, almost exactly 300 days after the youngster suffered his knee ligament injury in December’s 2-2 draw at Old Trafford, it’s probably a 50-50 shout on whether Holding is recalled at the expense of Sokratis.

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Emery has another intriguing call to make at left-back with summer signing Kieran Tierney finally fit for selection. Will he go straight into the team tonight? Nacho Monreal’s selection for the wins against Newcastle and Burnley prior to his return to Spain amounted to a telling insight into the doubts Emery must have about Sead Kolasinac in a four-man defence. On balance, Tierney will most probably make his Premier League debut at Old Trafford, but part of Emery’s selection quandary this evening is whether he is willing to risk recalling more than one of his recently-returned injured defenders. Holding’s inclusion would weaken the chances of Tierney playing and vice versa.

In midfield…

While the Arsenal supporters descended to booing Granit Xhaka last Sunday, Emery’s support of his player, which had already been unwavering, intensified in midweek when the midfielder was confirmed as the club’s new captain. It would be the ultimate bluff if he was omitted tonight.

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A rather more popular player, Matteo Guendozi, is a certainty to feature, but Lucas Torreira will only join Xhaka and Guendozi in the starting XI if Emery opts for a 4-3-3 formation rather than a 4-2-3-1. Contrary to his perception as a deep-lying anchor, Torreira is seen as an offensively-minded contributor by his manager. Emery recently stated he wants Torreira “box to box” so that “he can win the ball high up the pitch to give us the possession to score”.

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Up front…

While Alexandre Lacazette is ruled out, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Nicolas Pepe are guaranteed starters. But presuming Emery opts for 4-3-3, who will fill the third forward berth? Bukayo Saka, who debuted last weekend, is the likeliest choice ahead of Joe Willock, Gabriel Martinelli and Reiss Nelson.

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It says everything about Mesut Ozil’s position at the club that despite being Arsenal’s highest-paid player his inclusion would be a seismic shock. Dani Ceballos could also come into contention, but most probably only if Arsenal shape up in a 4-2-3-1.

Sourse: skysports.com

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