Friday, January 28, 2022

Xhaka In Defence, Odegaard To Return | Predicted 4-2-3-1 Arsenal Lineup Vs Villarreal

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Jack O’Brien
A 22 y/o football nerd seeking my way into football writing. I love Irish football and also the Premier League. A huge Arsenal fan! Aside from writing, I like to spend my time fishing and drinking beer.

Arsenal are looking to set their sights on the UEFA Europa League as they take on Villarreal on Thursday. It is a vital game for the Gunners, who are under pressure after poor performances in the Premier League and a win could be imperative as they look to get an early headstart over their Spanish opponent in this first leg encounter at Estadio de la Ceramica.

Predicted Arsenal Lineup Vs Villarreal

Defence

Mikel Arteta rested some of his important players on the weekend against Everton. He is set to revert those changes, with Hector Bellerin set to replace Calum Chambers at right-back. Granit Xhaka may get the nod ahead of Cedric Soares on the opposite flank, as the Swiss international has been doing a good job in deputising for the injured Kieran Tierney.

In central defence, Rob Holding remains a likely starter due to his imposing physical figure and aerial prowess that adds variety to the Arsenal backline. Alongside him, Arteta has to choose between Pablo Mari and Gabriel Magalhaes, with the latter a favourite after being benched against Everton.

Finally, in the goalkeeping unit, Arteta will be forced to persist with Bernd Leno despite his poor performances in recent weeks. Mat Ryan is the desired alternative, should the Spaniard look to make any change.

Predicted Arsenal Lineup Vs Villarreal - Xhaka to start at left-back.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Holly Allison/TPI/Shutterstock 11870494r Granit Xhaka of Arsenal warms up prior to the Premier League match between Arsenal and Everton at the Emirates Stadium in London – 23rd April 2021 Arsenal v Everton, Premier League, Football, The Emirates Stadium, London, UK – 23 Apr 2021 EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or live services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Arsenal v Everton, Premier League, Football, The Emirates Stadium, London, UK – 23 Apr 2021 EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or live services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. PUBLICATIONxINxGERxSUIxAUTXHUNxGRExMLTxCYPxROMxBULxUAExKSAxONLY Copyright: xHollyxAllison/TPI/Shutterstockx 11870494r

Midfield

Arteta has no reasons to make any changes from the combination between Thomas Partey and Dani Ceballos at the base of the 4-2-3-1. Partey was poor against Everton, but has the experience of facing Spanish teams, just like Ceballos, whose ability to move the ball forward could be useful for the Gunners this midweek.

Alternatively, Arteta could employ Cedric Soares at left-back, allowing him to renew the midfield partnership of Partey and Xhaka, but that remains unlikely for now.

Attack

Bukayo Saka is a guaranteed starter at right-wing for Arsenal, as he is the creator-in-chief for the north London giants. Nicolas Pepe, too, remains a favourite to occupy the wide attacking role, as the Ivorian has performed really well in the Europa League.

In the number ten role, Martin Odegaard could be set for his first start in a long time after returning from injury on the weekend. He will get the nod ahead of Emile Smith Rowe, as he hopes to form the creative trifecta that will look to provide support for Eddie Nketiah, who is deputising for the injured Alexandre Lacazette while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will be hoping for a place on the bench after recovering from Malaria.

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