February 4, 2024

Arsenal team news: Predicted XI as Mikel Arteta makes key change for Liverpool clash | Football | Sport


Arsenal will have the chance to cut the gap to Premier League leaders Liverpool to two points when they host the Reds in a pivotal game on Sunday. Post New Year victories over Crystal Palace and Nottingham Forest have steadied the ship for Mikel Arteta after back-to-back defeats, but the Spaniard will know that defeat at the Emirates could spell the end of their title ambitions. Express Sport predicts the Gunners’ team to face Jurgen Klopp’s side, which may include a major change from their midweek victory.

Goalkeeper: Raya

The jury is still out on Arteta’s decision to replace Aaron Ramsdale with David Raya after signing the keeper on loan from Brentford. The 28-year-old is firmly ensconced as the club No.1 though, with the England international now set to leave in the summer to seek regular football. And there’s now doubt Raya will be trusted in the XI again on Saturday.

Defenders: White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko

With the obvious exception of Jurrien Timber, Arsenal have their strongest back four available. The William Saliba and Gabriel partnership is now firmly established, although there will be extra scrutiny on Ben White and Oleksandr Zinchenko, after the pair clashed after the final whistle at the City Ground on Tuesday.

Arteta however, lauded the argument, saying: “That happens because you have the trust and chemistry with somebody to react the way they did.”

Midfielders: Odegaard, Rice, Havertz

The one major change that Arteta will voluntarily make to the side that beat Forest should come in midfield. Emile Smith Rowe was handed a rare start in midweek, cementing an extraordinary stat of his last three Premier League starts being spread over three calendar years.

But while doubts remain over Kai Havertz, Arteta remains loyal to his £65million singing and he is almost certain to return in place of the youngster. The other two positions pick themselves, with club captain Martin Odegaard and the classy Declan Rice set to retain their places.

One player who won’t be available in the middle of the park for a while though is Thomas Partey. He suffered a setback and his recovery from injury this week, and it is now doubtful if he will appear in red again this season.

Attackers: Saka, Jesus, Martinelli

Despite carrying a knee injury, Gabriel Jesus has trained since his scoring display at Forest and has been passed fit to face Liverpool. Also on the scoresheet was Bukayo Saka, and the duo will be joined by Gabriel Martinelli in looking to expose the Liverpool defence.

There have been question marks over the finishing of Brazilian Jesus, and with the Ivan Toney transfer saga delayed until the summer at least, a goal in a game of this magnitude will go a long way towards silencing the doubters.



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