Having been bumped off the Premier League’s summit by Manchester City over the weekend, Arsenal will look to roar back with victory at their opening-day conquerors Aston Villa.
Arsenal’s back five very much takes care of itself, especially with both Thomas Vermaelen and Kieran Gibbs still struggling with injuries.
Left-back Gibbs could return to the squad, having missed his side’s first two matches in 2014 with a calf injury, but Arsenal have only lost one top-flight match Nacho Monreal has been involved in this term and the Spaniard deserves to stay in the starting line-up.
Arsene Wenger is likely to set his team up in a fluid 4-2-3-1 formation and will rely on Mathieu Flamini’s ability to break down opposition charges against the counter-attacking Villans, while Mikel Arteta pings any loose balls forward.
Mesut Ozil will come back into the side, having started on the bench at home to Tottenham in the FA Cup, and although Tomas Rosicky prefers to be deployed through the middle, he will have to make way for the £42.5m man.
However, the Czech star was in lively form in the 2-0 win against Spurs, linking well with the rest of the midfield and grabbing the second goal, so he makes it onto the right-hand side ahead of Jack Wilshere and young winger Serge Gnabry.
Santi Cazorla keeps his perch on the left as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain may not yet be fit enough to even make the squad, never mind the starting line-up, and Wenger will be praying Olivier Giroud has recovered from the illness that kept him out of the clash with Tim Sherwood’s Lilywhites.
Now that youngster Chuba Akpom has gone out on loan to Brentford, Giroud is the only injury-free centre-forward left standing at the Emirates and his omission from the team sheet would leave Villa licking their lips ahead of this clash.
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