Arsenal is gearing up to face Everton on Sunday, and Mikel Arteta could opt for a nearly identical lineup to the previous game, with the only alteration being Gabriel Jesus coming into the mix.
The Gunners’ upcoming clash with Everton poses a challenge, as Arteta is yet to secure victory at his former home ground, Goodison Park. Arsenal’s last triumph at this venue was under the management of Arsene Wenger, highlighting the difficulties they have faced in the last five years.
During the pre-game press conference, Arteta addressed various concerns and queries. He reassured fans about the availability of most players, stating, “Apart from Thomas Partey, the rest are available.” However, questions arose regarding Bukayo Saka’s fitness after reports during the international break suggested a calf niggle.
Providing an update on Partey, Arteta explained, “He’s still a few weeks away. He’s dealing with a muscle injury, and his recovery is progressing well, but he’s still a few weeks away.” As for Saka, Arteta quickly dismissed any worries, especially since the winger had consistently played for England during the break. “He’s fine. He trained normally today, so there’s nothing to report there. Every player experiences pains or issues, which is normal in elite sports, but there’s nothing to worry about,” Arteta stated.
The manager also fielded questions about the adaptation of star signing Declan Rice to his new surroundings, particularly after his impressive performance against Manchester United. Arteta expressed satisfaction with Rice’s transition, saying, “Yeah, so obviously you always hope that the transition is going to be smooth and fast. But then sometimes, the reality is very different. In this case, I think it’s been really positive. I think he’s finding it really easy. I think he understood the team and our way of playing really, really fast, and things are going well for him.”
Arteta faces a pleasant dilemma when it comes to his strikers. Both Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Jesus are in top form, making it a tough choice. While Nketiah has performed admirably, Jesus is showing pre-World Cup fitness levels that could make him a potent force from the beginning. Arteta might lean towards his preferred first-choice option in Jesus against Everton.
Despite media criticism, Kai Havertz is likely to retain his place in the lineup. Although he has adapted well to his new midfield role, Havertz is currently struggling with confidence in the attacking third. Thus, Arteta is expected to maintain Havertz in a midfield trio alongside Rice and Martin Odegaard.
The defensive line will remain unchanged, with Aaron Ramsdale in goal and the same back-four that started against Manchester United. In the attacking setup, Saka and Gabriel Martinelli will flank Jesus, who will lead the line.
Predicted Arsenal Starting XI: Ramsdale; Ben White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko; Odegaard, Rice, Havertz; Saka, Jesus, Martinelli
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