It’s now 18 games since Arsenal last experienced defeat, but there’s no doubting the cracks that are beginning to appear in Arsene Wenger’s squad. Three draws in as many games have left supporters feeling somewhat pessimistic about their chances of success this year.
It’s also been five games since the Gunners last kept a clean sheet, and while the arrival of Shkodran Mustafi in the summer has given Gooners confidence in the long-term, the defender hasn’t had the best of times of late.
And he’s just one of the players that Wenger should look at resting this weekend, when Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth visit the Emirates.
Ladbrokes News runs through who we think should feature at the back for Arsenal on Sunday…
LB – Kieran Gibbs
Gibbs has always been a reliable member of any Arsene Wenger side. However, Nacho Monreal’s emergence in the last few years has meant the 27-year-old has become something of a bit-part player.
But the Gunners’ regular left-back hasn’t had the best of times of late, with several clubs exploiting Monreal’s lack of pace. And that’s something the Cherries will look to do on Sunday – but Gibbs can certainly counter that threat.
A weekend off may be just what Monreal needs – perhaps the defender has been a tad complacent in recent months.
CB – Laurent Koscielny
Granted, Koscielny has hardly set the world alight this season, but he has come to the Arsenal’s rescue on numerous occasions already.
He’s a key figure in this Arsenal side, and his reading of the game can’t be matched by many in the Premier League.
Captaining the side in Per Mertesacker and Santi Cazorla’s absence, Koscielny’s presence at the heart of the defence is pivotal.
CB – Gabriel
Remember him? Such is the impact that Mustafi has had on the first-team, we almost forgot Gabriel was still an Arsenal player.
He’s yet to start a game in the league for the Gunners this season, but he does have plenty of experience playing alongside Koscielny.
He may be prone to the occasional mistake, but he’s not a bad replacement to call upon were Wenger to give Mustafi a break from the starting line-up in the next few games.
RB – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Yep, you read that right.
This isn’t as strange a suggestion as it sounds, either.
With Hector Bellerin currently out injured, and Mathieu Debuchy yet to return to full fitness, Wenger is relying on Carl Jenkinson to fill in at right-back.
But the Arsenal youth product has failed to make an impact on the first-team, and should he play against Bournemouth, it’s likely Eddie Howe will field a quick winger such as Jordon Ibe on the left-hand side.
But the Ox is one of the quickest players in this team, and he’s already covered at right-back in the last two games, coming off the bench to replace Jenkinson late on.
And the crazy part is this: he hasn’t put a foot wrong.
We know that going forward the 23-year-old is more than capable of doing a job. And playing behind Theo Walcott – a player who is known for putting a shift in defensively – he’ll certainly be able to push-up throughout the game.
What do fans think? Would you like to see this back-four playing on Sunday?
Let us know in the comments section below!
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing