Arteta hopes for FA Cup win to give Arsenal boost in title race
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Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta is set to ring the changes ahead of their FA Cup tie against Manchester City on Friday evening. The Gunners boss is expected to hand a full debut to January signing Leandro Trossard, with Jakub Kiwior also in contention to play some part in the cup tie as he will be part of the travelling squad.
The Premier League leaders have enjoyed a stellar domestic campaign and are currently five points ahead of City heading into their fourth-round encounter. However, Arteta’s men are still likely to be seen as underdogs with the Spaniard ready to rotate his squad as he faces his mentor Pep Guardiola.
Martin Odegaard has played in all but one of Arsenal’s Premier League games this season and the Norwegian could be given a well-earned rest along with Bukayo Saka, Thomas Partey, Gabriel Martinelli and William Saliba.
With Arteta set to field a much-changed side under the lights in Manchester, Express Sport takes a look at which players could start at the Etihad Stadium.
Goalkeeper – Turner
Arteta will need to make a decision on whether to start Aaron Ramsdale over Matt Turner, with the USA international keeping a clean sheet in the 3-0 win over Oxford United in the previous round.
Ramsdale has been in inspired form of late with six clean sheets in his last 10 appearances, although the 24-year-old’s error against United suggested he may require a rest with an important period in the season still to come.
That could hand Turner the chance to get some more minutes under his belt, with the 28-year-old showing his ability in the Europa League group stage with three shutouts in four appearances.
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Defence – Tomiyasu, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney
It could be nearly a whole different back four for Arsenal from the win over United as Arteta shuffles the pack, with Takehiro Tomiyasu and Kieran Tierney gaining some much-needed minutes.
But all eyes will be set on the debutant Jakub Kiwior as the young Pole prepares for his Arsenal bow at the Etihad Stadium following his £18m move from Serie A side Spezia.
The 22-year-old was signed with an eye on the long-term, and matches of this kind will be a perfect introduction for the highly-rated centre-back to adjust to English football. But it may come too soon for him as he only joined this week, with Gabriel set to partner Rob Holding.
Midfield – Lokonga, Xhaka, Vieira
Until Arteta can bring in another central midfielder, he cannot afford to risk playing Thomas Partey every week due to the Ghanaian’s concerning injury record. Mohamed Elneny is still out injured and it is the one area where Arsenal are lacking some proper depth.
It could be a chance, then, for Albert Sambi Lokonga to prove his critics wrong, with the Belgian little more than a fringe player these days after falling down the pecking order.
He could be partnered by the in-form Granit Xhaka and £30m summer signing Fabio Vieira, who can stand in for Odegaard after showing glimpses of his quality in the Carabao Cup.
Attack – Smith Rowe, Nketiah, Trossard
Arteta has hinted Trossard will be given a chance to earn his place after an impressive cameo on his debut, having made his first appearance in an Arsenal shirt in the 3-2 win over Manchester United.
“I see a player [Trossard] that is willing to make things happen and who is really composed, especially in the final third,” said Arteta. “It’s something we needed in the team and straight away he had a beautiful impact in the team to help us to win it.”
With Saka and Martinelli likely to be rested, it should give Emile Smith Rowe the chance to mark his return from injury with his first start of the season after the 21-year-old underwent groin surgery earlier in the season. Eddie Nketiah will continue up front after scoring seven goals in as many games, with Gabriel Jesus still sidelined.
Arsenal’s potential XI to face Man City: Turner; Tomiyasu, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney; Lokonga, Xhaka, Vieira; Trossard, Nketiah, Smith Rowe.
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