How Arsenal could line up at Man Utd amid defensive crisis that makes Xhaka centre-back option after he replaced Mustafi

ARSENAL travel to Manchester United on Sunday in the biggest game of the Premier League weekend – with Mikel Arteta forced to contend with a major defensive crisis.

With the dust barely having settled from their 3-0 Europa League win over Dundalk, Mikel Arteta is likely to ring the changes.

How Arsenal could line up against Man Utd on Sunday

The Gunners were already without David Luiz, Rob Holding and Calum Chambers going into the win over the Irish side.

And then Shkodran Mustafi was subbed off after an hour of the game with an apparent knock, with his place in the team for United in doubt.

Arteta remains hopeful the German will be fit to play – and could partner Gabriel Magalhaes in the heart of defence.

Should Mustafi not be deemed fit, Granit Xhaka could be forced to deputise at centre-back, with natural left-back Sead Kolasinac another option.

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For Sunday’s big game, Reiss Nelson, Eddie Nketiah, Joe Willock, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Runar Alex Runarsson are just a handful of players likely to slip back to the bench.

With Arteta likely to start with his favoured 4-3-3, Bernd Leno will return to the starting XI.

Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney are set to nail down the full-back spots.

And, with very few options thanks to injuries, Mustafi is almost certain to start alongside Gabriel in the middle.

Another way Arteta could send out his troops vs Man Utd

Thomas Partey should start in the heart of midfield and could be joined by Dani Ceballos and Granit Xhaka – back in his favoured position having deputised in defence lately.

Nicolas Pepe will likely be given the chance to continue his decent form from the right-wing.

And Arteta could have Willian available to start on the opposite flank.

The ex-Chelsea star’s experience could be crucial against Man Utd and would allow captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to return to his favoured central striker position.

However, keen to take advantage of United’s hit-and-miss defence, Arteta could pick Lacazette in place of Willian, with Auba shunted out left.

Arteta could also decide to err on the side of caution, wary of United’s strong attacking threat, and play a 3-4-3 / 5-2-3.

In this formation, Mustafi and Gabriel would be joined by Tierney on the left side of the central three.

Bellerin and Bukayo Saka would then serve as the wing-backs – with Partey and Ceballos in the middle.

If experience is the order of the day, Arteta may opt to play Kolasinac in the heart of defence, with Tierney taking Saka’s spot as left-wing-back.

Arsenal travel to Old Trafford to take on Man Utd on Sunday November 1, with kick-off 4.30pm.


By: Dave Fraser
Title: How Arsenal could line up at Man Utd amid defensive crisis that makes Xhaka centre-back option after he replaced Mustafi
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Published Date: Fri, 30 Oct 2020 09:35:51 +0000

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