Mikel Arteta laments Xhaka injury blow for Arsenal
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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta will aim to extend his side’s four-game Premier League unbeaten run by completing a tricky assignment against Patrick Vieira’s Crystal Palace. The Spaniard, who could do with another convincing victory to shrug off any remaining doubts about his future, has the luxury of a fully-fit squad with the exception of Granit Xhaka, who is still out with knee ligament damage, and potentially Gabriel Martinelli.
Express Sport looks at how the Gunners could line up against Palace:
Aaron Ramsdale grasped his opportunity with both hands when given the chance to stand in for Bernd Leno, even though it came sooner than expected.
Still, things have been much rosier since he took the German’s place, and Arsenal fans are already loving his passion between the sticks.
Leno is likely to be given the chance to earn his spot back at some point, but with the tide turning in north London it would be a surprise to see Arteta make a change in goal against Palace.
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Defence: Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tierney
After a torrid opening three games which saw Arsenal ship nine goals, Arteta finally seems to have found a winning recipe in defence.
The Gunners have only conceded one goal in their past five games across all competitions, and the quartet of Takehiro Tomiyasyu, Ben White, Gabriel and Kieran Tierney have been present for the majority.
Tomiyasu in particular has impressed fans with his tenacity since arriving on transfer deadline day, and his versatility could also come in handy later in the campaign.
Tierney is already adored for his passion on the left, while White and Gabriel are an exciting young centre-back partnership who should only improve with time and experience.
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Midfield: Smith-Rowe, Partey, Odegaard
Arsenal’s only major injury falls in midfield, but Xhaka’s absence gives Arteta the perfect excuse to field two of the club’s brightest young stars.
Emile Smith-Rowe and Martin Odegaard’s inclusion does make the Gunners far more attacking, despite carrying the risk of leaving them exposed at the back.
However, fans should rightly testify that they should be taking the game to a team like Palace, and the two youngsters flanking Thomas Partey have the talent to ask plenty of questions.
Partey himself has shown lots of promise himself in the base of midfield, and with a run of injury-free games he could establish himself as irreplaceable.
Attack: Pepe, Aubameyang, Saka
Young star Bukayo Saka has featured on the right flank in recent weeks, but when Nicolas Pepe also takes to the field he tends to switch to the left.
Neither winger has hit the heights in terms of goals or assists so far this campaign, as can be said for most of the Arsenal squad, but both have looked bright in flashes.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is currently talking it upon himself to carry the goals burden for his side, and will seek to add to his season’s tally of five against Palace.
Even if this trio fall slightly flat at the Emirates, there is enough attacking threat behind them to potentially bail Arteta out.
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