Will any of Arsenal’s EFL Cup flops feature in West Ham trip?
It was a dreadful end to an average November for Arsenal, as they crashed out of the EFL Cup in a 2-0 defeat at home to Southampton.
Although 10 changes were made to the side that defeated Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth on Sunday, there were still enough first-team names fielded that should have got the job done for the Gunners.
But with a Saturday evening kick-off against West Ham to prepare for, Ladbrokes News has taken a look at which players (if any) will likely feature again.
In goal it’s simple – Petr Cech starts.
Wenger has a goalkeeper for all occasions, with Cech featuring in every Premier League game, David Ospina playing in Europe and Emiliano Martinez being used in domestic cup fixtures.
Of the back-four that started in the week against the Saints, only Kieran Gibbs would normally be considered as a first-team option for the top-flight. But with Wenger favouring Nacho Monreal in the league, it’s unlikely the former will start at the London Stadium.
However, the Frenchman may be forced into fielding Carl Jenkinson once again, with Hector Bellerin and Mathieu Debuchy out injured. Another alternative would be to push Shkodran Mustafi out to right-back and field Gabriel alongside Laurent Koscielny.
One positive for Gooners is that Jenkinson will be playing against a side he knows all too well, having spent last campaign with the Hammers, so that could spur him on to impress his former boss.
Moving onto the middle of the park, and lack of options in the engine room means Francis Coquelin and Granit Xhaka will probably start against West Ham.
That’s not bad news though – quite the opposite in fact. Coquelin has arguably been Arsenal’s best player of the season, while Xhaka looked like the only forward-thinking player in a red shirt against Southampton.
The pair have only started alongside each other twice in the league this season, with both matches finishing level.
In short, the return of Santi Cazorla can’t come soon enough.
Elsewhere, Aaron Ramsey did very little last night to suggest he’ll start ahead of Mesut Ozil this weekend, while Alex Iwobi will face stiff competition from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for a place on the left-hand side of a front three.
It’s back to the drawing board for Jeff Reine-Adelaide, who failed to impress out on the right flank against Southampton left-back, Ryan Bertrand.
That means Theo Walcott should slot straight back into the side for what would be his 13th start of the season.
And finally, though it’s good to see Lucas Perez fit again after a spell on the sidelines, it’s hard to envisage anyone other than Alexis Sanchez playing through the middle in the league right now.
The Chile international is in the form of his life and is the third-top scorer in the league with eight strikes from 13 games.
Perez may well find himself on the bench in Olivier Giroud’s potential absence through injury, and could be called upon in the latter stages should the Gunners need a goal.
But what do fans think? Who would feature in your starting XI this weekend?
Have your say in the comments section below!
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