MIKEL ARTETA is in the midst of plotting his perfect starting line-up as the return to Premier League football on June 17 looms closer.
The Gunners were recently contacted by the Hammers in the hope of setting up a friendly match – and the North Londoners are looking to welcome a number of injury absentees back into their squad including Kieran Tierney and Lucas Torreira.
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The Premier League has given clubs permission to arrange warm-up games now that training is stepping up ahead of the June 17 restart.
But there are strict rules which include teams not travelling further than 90 minutes and players must get there alone without the normal team bus.
West Ham are keen to face the Gunners as they have already met twice in the Prem.
Lucas Torreira recently proved he is fighting fit as he prepares for a return to the top-flight after picking up a serious ankle injury back in March during Arsenal’s 2-0 FA Cup win over Portsmouth.
The knock was set to keep him rotting on the bench for the rest of the campaign before the season was ground to a halt over the coronavirus pandemic.
And while he hasn’t had the support of Arsenal’s medical staff in lockdown, he has worked tirelessly to maintain his fitness and recovery.
The will come as a major boost to Arsenal fans and boss Arteta with Torreira able to add much-needed steel in Arsenal’s midfield.
Should he not make it back in time, Torreira’s absence will keep Dani Ceballos and Granit Xhaka in the two central midfield roles.
The Gunners will need to waste no time in finding their form if they want to qualify for Europe next campaign as they sit eight points behind fourth-placed Chelsea with a game advantage.
Former Celtic star Tierney, 22, has not yet played under Arteta as he has been out of action with a shoulder injury since December.
The Scotsman dislocated his shoulder – but the Emirates boss has predicted Tierney will bring “something special” to the squad when he’s back to full fitness.
He hit the ground running at the Colney training ground last week after the North Londoners became the first Premier League team to return to work at the end of April following the coronavirus outbreak.
If the Scot is unfit a selection decision must be made between Bukayo Saka and Sead Kolasinac at left-back.
Luiz could be first choice to lead the back-line as his agent Kia Joorabchian revealed the Brazilian has no desire to depart the club.
Should Arteta choose to not play the Brazilian, the Arsenal boss could go with Pablo Mari alongside Sokratis Papastathopoulos as his centre-back pairing.
Nicolas Pepe, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mesut Ozil are well-primed for a start in the first game back.
Eddie Nketiah was given a run of games before football’s shutdown, nudging him ahead in the pecking order over out-of-sorts Alexandre Lacazette and fellow youngster Gabriel Martinelli.
With three starts and a goal in Arsenal’s previous three league games, Nketiah may pip Lacazette, but the Frenchman’s winner versus West Ham last time out leaves him well in contention for the starting XI.
By: Isabelle Barker
Title: How Arsenal could line up in West Ham friendly as Kieran Tierney and Lucas Torreira return from injury
Sourced From: www.thesun.co.uk/sport/football/11783766/arsenal-west-ham-line-up-tierney-torreira/
Published Date: Sat, 06 Jun 2020 06:41:40 +0000