Zinchenko dropped, Smith-Rowe starts: Predicted team vs West Ham
Arsenal will host West Ham on Thursday, less than a week after that tense visit to Liverpool before Christmas.
The Gunners are once again the league leaders at this time of the year but Mikel Arteta will be wary of the fact that the Premier League table as it stands on Christmas day, does not guarantee anything come May.
Raya is bound to keep his place in goal while the likes of Ben White, Gabriel and William Saliba maintain their spots as well, after their solid performances at Anfield.
With Tomiyasu and Timber still out, those who are hoping for Zinchenko to be dropped for his recent defensive lapses are unlikely to get their wish. But it has to be said that any more notable errors from the Ukranian should see Kiwior – who is slightly better at defending than Zinchenko, despite being inferrior at attacking as a left-back – step in for his chance.
West Ham will present some real danger in their attack with players like Kudus and Bowen, who has a very prolific record against Arsenal. Therefore, this will not be the idle game for a left-back who is incapable of defending properly against tricky wingers – regardless of what that said left-back contributes in attack.
In midfield, the suspension – due to five yellow cards accumulation – for Havertz means Arteta has a big call to make on who comes in to play the number 8 role.
Trossard, who is better at finishing in the 18-yard box than retaining possesion in midfield, might not be the best option and due to his limited mobility, neither is Jorginho.
Thus, it would be interesting to see the fit-again Smith-Rowe get a chance in the number 8 midfield role, alongside Odegaard and Rice.
Martinelli has been frequently substituted by Arteta is recent games, but even on a bad day, the team always seems to miss something when he is withdrawn. His blistering pace and strong work ethic is always needed in comparison to Trossard, who is a great finisher, but can often be too casual on the ball when he comes on.
Gabriel Jesus and Bukayo Saka should complete the front three.
White – Saliba – Gabriel – Kiwior
Rice – Smith-Rowe
Saka – Jesus – Martinelli