Friday, 1 February 2019

Suarez to start? Koscielny back? How Arsenal could line up against Manchester City

Arsenal continue to be plagued by defensive injuries as they gear up to face Manchester City at the Etihad this weekend.

The Gunners have a number of key players sidelined and were forced to field a makeshift backline last time out against Cardiff.Manager Unai Emery is likely to rely on a similar back four to the one that helped earn a 2-1 win over the Bluebirds on Tuesday.

Nacho Monreal was deployed as an emergency centre-back during the victory, although Laurent Koscielny is back in training and could return after a nasty jaw injury.

The Frenchman should line up alongside Shkodran Mustafi while Stephan Lichtsteiner is expected to be deployed at right-back again in the absence of Hector Bellerin (ACL) and Ainsley Maitland-Niles (knee).

Maitland-Niles is being assessed ahead of the fixture but Rob Holding (ACL) and Sokratis Papastathopoulos (ankle) are both ruled out.

Konstantinos Mavropanos was named on the bench in midweek and is another option at centre-back, although the Greek defender hasn’t featured all season.

Further forward, Emery could opt for a three-man midfield with Granit Xhaka returning to the starting XI.

The Swiss international is likely to be joined by Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi if the Gunners choose to pack the centre of the pitch.

Aaron Ramsey is expected to be preferred to Mesut Ozil in the No 10 role, with the German not trusted in high-tensity matches.

However, new loan signing Denis Suarez will also hope to feature and will provide competition for Ramsey in the free role.

Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang should start up front while Henrikh Mkhitaryan (metatarsal) will be assessed before kick-off and Danny Welbeck (ankle) is a long-term absentee.

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