Arsenal will play host to Leeds United this evening as we look to book our place in the quarter finals of the EFL Cup.
There has been no official update from the club on our injuries, but Granit Xhaka is known to be missing for the long-term at present, while Kieran Tierney missed Friday night’s win over Aston Villa due to injury, and we wouldn’t expect him to be rushed back for this clash.
Bukayo Saka was a doubt for that fixture, having been unable to train from Monday to Thursday last week as confirmed by Arteta, but managed to play for the entire 90 minutes and escape unscathed, and will likely be rested this evening, alongside Smith Rowe, who has featured heavily this term.
Predicted Arsenal XI:
Cedric Holding Mari Tavares
Pepe Odegaard Martinelli
It’s quite tricky predicting the thinking of manager Mikel Arteta, knowing that he wants to name a strong line-up and ensure passage into the next round, as well as knowing that this will be one of the rare opportunities where he could rotate a little to freshen up some players and bring sharpness to the rest of the squad.
I keep thinking that Lacazette could start this evening, despite breaking back into the manager’s first-team plans, but I couldn’t decide which of Nketiah or Martinelli should miss out this evening.
I was also torn on whether Chambers could take up a role in defence, and followed Arteta’s previous EFL Cup decision to leave him out against AFC Wimbledon.
One player who you may have been looking out for is Charlie Patino, who has been reaping plenty of praise from behind the scenes for a while now, and while I hope that I’m wrong, I don’t believe there is room in the squad for him unfortunately.
Our opponents on the other hand are already missing some of their key players through injury, and will be forced to use their extended squad regardless of their wishes.
TheAthletic confirmed that Junior Firpo, Luke Ayling, Patrick Bamford and Robin Koch are already ruled out, as well describing Kalvin Phillips as 50-50 to make it. While you wouldn’t expect Marcelo Bielsa to risk his star player in the EFL Cup, he may be able to fill a role on the bench. The exciting Raphinha also picked up a knock at the weekend, and may miss out also as confirmed by his manager.
Does this line-up have more than enough to deal with Leeds? Who are you most eager to see in the starting line-up this evening?