MX23RW : Tuesday, June 16 17:13:37| >> :60:2305:2305:

How Arsenal could line up for their first game back

Sports Mole looks at how Arsenal could line up for their first match back after lockdown, when they face champions Manchester City at the Etihad.

The Premier League will make its long-awaited return later this month, with action resuming on June 17 after the coronavirus-enforced stoppage.

By that stage it would have been exactly 100 days since the last Premier League game, and an even longer wait for Arsenal.

However, the Gunners are one of the first teams back in action as they take on champions Manchester City in their game in hand on the Wednesday, knowing that victory would lift them above Tottenham Hotspur and could catapult them as high as sixth.

Here, Sports Mole looks at how Mikel Arteta could line his side up for the contest.


Out: Calum Chambers (knee)
Doubtful: Lucas Torreira (ankle)

Even a break of more than three months will not be long enough for Calum Chambers to recover from his knee injury, with the defender still expected to miss the rest of the campaign.

Lucas Torreira would have also likely been unable to play again in 2019-20 had it not been for the league's suspension, but he has begun to step up his recovery in training and could be in contention by the time of June 17.

Both injury doubts may not make the Arsenal XI even if fully fit, though; Torreira has fallen down the pecking order under Arteta, while Chambers also has people ahead of him.

Pablo Mari would be in contention for a starting role against Man City, although considering the quality of the opposition Arteta may opt to go with the experience of David Luiz and Shkodran Mustafi at the heart of the defence.

Kieran Tierney has recovered from his injury troubles during the break, while in front of the defence Dani Ceballos appears to be entering the final stages of his loan spell and should continue to be used alongside Granit Xhaka.

The attacking unit poses questions for Arteta, who must decide whether to brave all four of his 'luxury' forwards against a team like Man City.

Mesut Ozil has often been left out of such big games but has so far played a much more regular role under Arteta than he did under Unai Emery, suggesting that he has the trust of his former teammate.

Nicolas Pepe is another who has sometimes been left out when Arsenal need more defensive cover, although after such a long break the Gunners may view this is a good opportunity to catch Man City cold, and therefore risk such an attacking lineup.

Top scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is a shoo-in, but another question mark hangs over who Arteta will choose to lead the line.

Alexandre Lacazette's experience and longer track record may give him the edge in that respect, despite Eddie Nketiah being preferred to the Frenchman prior to lockdown.

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Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang pictured in Europa League action in February 2020
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