Premier League 2018/19: Predicted Arsenal line-up against Tottenham
After returning from a chilly night in Kiev, Unai Emery will look forward to preparing his team to face Tottenham, in his first North London derby. The stakes of the match are high as Arsenal look to continue their unbeaten streak. If the Gunners are able to beat the Lillywhites, it will bring them to a position above Tottenham and add more confidence to the team.
Since taking over, Emery has done an impressive job in both domestic and European competitions. The Gunners sit fifth in the Premier League table but are not far behind their rivals, Tottenham, who sit in third place.
The Spanish manager brought a youthful squad to Kiev when they faced Vorskla in the Europa League group stage on Thursday night. Many key players such as Mesut Ozil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Hector Bellerin were not risked in the outing. Without much trouble, Arsenal went on to beat their opponents 0-3 to secure the top spot of their group.
Meanwhile, for Tottenham, the confidence in Mauricio Pochettino's team is also rising, after their hopes of advancing to the next stage of the Champions League remain in sight and they ended Chelsea's unbeaten run last weekend.
It will be a fierce battle between the two sides at the Emirates Stadium to see where the power lies. Here is how Emery could line his side up in a 3-4-3 formation to face Tottenham.
Goalkeeper: Bernd Leno
Although Leno has not kept as many clean sheets as the fans would have liked, it appears that the German has deputised Petr Cech to be Emery's first choice goalkeeper. Leno did not travel with the squad for the midweek Europa League match and it seems likely that he will be starting at the Emirates on Sunday afternoon.
The 26-year-old has hardly put a foot wrong and made key saves during his recent performances for the team. The North London derby will be a huge game for him and his team.
Centre-back: Shkodran Mustafi
Albeit a little reckless in his challenges at times, Mustafi remains favoured by Emery and in this crucial match, they have to ensure that Tottenham does not go in front first. It will be wise for Emery to stick with three centre-backs at the defence so that Bellerin and Kolasinac can shift back into their favoured positions anytime to play five at the back.
Mustafi can be good in the air, hence he will be a good player to stop Harry Kane in aerial challenges and also provide some opportunities for his side to score during set-pieces.
Sokratis has impressed many with his physical play against Bournemouth last weekend. He was excellent in his challenges and his strong figure at the back has really urged everyone to be on their toes all the time. If there is a pair of defenders who can stop Tottenham's strikers, it has got to be him and Rob Holding.
Centre-back: Rob Holding
The young English defender has been excellent in his performances and deserves a showing in the North London Derby. His awareness of where his opponents are and the ball has helped him make vital interceptions. Between the keeper and Holding, both of them seem to have established a mutual understanding. With the 23-year-old doing well at the back, there is no reason to leave him out of the starting line-up.
Right-winger: Hector Bellerin
Last weekend, Bellerin played in a more advanced position than he usually does. In order to accommodate three at the back, he was pushed forward but also given the room to shift back whenever necessary. It looks like Emery could continue to adopt this strategy until Nacho Monreal recovers from his injury.
Bellerin's failure to track back fast enough last Sunday gave Bournemouth the equaliser right before half-time. Even though the Spaniard likes to get forward, he has to remember to track back too in this more advanced position rather than leave everything to the centre-backs.
Left-winger: Sead Kolasinac
Against Bournemouth, Kolasinac made a few key runs forward to link with the attacking midfielders. He may not be the fastest, but he is definitely capable of driving the ball forward with his strong physicality.
One way Kolasinac can make an impact on the game is by being precise and accurate in his crossing. Last weekend, he had a pretty good game at the Vitality Stadium. Tottenham has a number of tall and strong defenders, as such, Kolasinac will have to take his chances wisely and be sure not to lose the ball.
Central Defensive Midfielder: Granit Xhaka
The Swiss midfielder is fast becoming one of the more consistent players on the team when he plays alongside Lucas Torreira. He may not be the best player in terms of tackling his opponents and he often loses his cool when he encounters a challenge, but Xhaka has been a key man in the second half attacking spells where he can help his side advance quickly. The team has benefitted from his accurate passing and partnership with Torreira.
Central Defensive Midfielder: Lucas Torreira
Throughout the season, Torreira has made many crucial blocks and interceptions. He is often finding himself in great positions to stop his opponents from advancing and to help his team recycle possession of the ball.
Against a team like Tottenham who are accurate in their passing and shift in getting forward, Arsenal would have to count on their 22-year-old to do the job in the heart of the midfield and stall time for the defenders to be ready.
Attacking Midfielder: Mesut Ozil
Despite not playing a single minute last weekend and in the midweek match, Ozil is expected to start this Sunday. It is a game too huge to miss and if he were to be on the bench, it seems like it is really a great gamble for Emery. Ozil may not be in a superb form, but his intelligence in reading the game could be a vital point for the team to exploit and get an advantage over Pochettino's side.
Striker: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Aubameyang scored against The Cherries in preparation for the derby. He has maintained a pretty good goalscoring record since joining the North London club, proving his worth and matching up to his price tag.
Without Lacazette, the Gabon striker seemed to find it hard to get as many opportunities as he previously has had. In the upcoming game, Emery has to play the both of them together to get the best out of the Arsenal team.
Striker: Alexandre Lacazette
After pulling out of the French squad to nurse his groin injury, Lacazette was not risked over the weekend to prevent any aggravation to his injury. Emery has lost Welbeck and cannot afford to lose his main strikers, or else he will be in big trouble.
The French forward has been in fine form this season and has managed to establish a formidable partnership with Aubameyang. They lead the line of Arsenal's attacks on most occasions in the Premier League and have proved to be lethal in front of the goal.
Substitutes: Petr Cech, Aaron Ramsey, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Alex Iwobi, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Eddie Nketiah.