Mikel Arteta has a tough job on his hands making the right team selection for the rest of the season.
Arsenal’s season looks like it is petering out before it has got going, with the Gunners on a streak of four consecutive draws in the Premier League.
Arsenal brought in Pablo Mari and Cedric Soares on loan deals during the January transfer window, but would they get into the Gunners’ strongest XI when everyone is fit?
Who should Arteta be choosing in his starting lineup?
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Art de Roche – Arsenal writer
Pablo Mari’s loan would not have been sealed if Mikel Arteta didn’t plan for him to be a key member of the squad. The Spaniard has admitted the importance of signing a left-footed centre-back brining balance to the defence both in and out of possession.
Once everybody is available Sead Kolasinac may be the best option at left-back. Both he and Bukayo Saka have impressed under Arteta but being natural in that position and without Kieran Tierney proving himself to the Spaniard, it’ll be hard not to choose him.
The midfield is pretty settled but the big questions come at the top of the pitch. Despite Alexandre Lacazette’s overall contributions, Arsenal look more dangerous without him.
Gabriel Martinelli and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang cannot be dropped in the form they are in and with neither suited to playing off the right, Lacazette is the player to be sacrificed. Nicolas Pepe would take the free spot on the right wing.
De Roche’s strongest Arsenal XI: Leno; Bellerin, Luiz, Mari, Kolasinac; Torreira, Xhaka; Pepe, Ozil, Martinelli; Aubameyang.
James Benge – Senior Arsenal writer
Much of this team names itself but finding the right man to partner David Luiz at the back was quite the challenge.
Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis Papastathopoulos have taken strides forward under Mikel Arteta whilst if Calum Chambers were fit he’d certainly merit serious consideration.
However, in the interests of implementing the style of building from deep Arsenal want I have gone with new boy Pablo Mari, the only left-footer in the squad and someone who was identified for his ability to help his team-mates set up from deep areas. He also happens to be the tallest centre-back in the squad, something which would certainly help a squad that does not have many big bodies to defend set plays.
The front four is where the real headaches lie. To be frank I don’t think Mesut Ozil has done enough to be a regular starter at No.10 but then nor has Dani Ceballos (it’s not his favoured position anyway) whilst Joe Willock hasn’t shown quite the consistency required this season. The German takes it by default.
As for the remainder of the frontline, I simply have to get Gabriel Martinelli and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in. The former looks better wide left and whilst the latter isn’t the perfect option…