Arsenal will be aiming to return to winning ways in the Premier League when they face Southampton at St Mary’s on Saturday afternoon.
The Gunners have lost ground in the top-four race with back-to-back defeats against Crystal Palace and Brighton & Hove Albion following the international break.
They are still three points behind fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur with a game in hand, but Spurs have a superior goal difference and no major injury concerns.
Arsenal are without Kieran Tierney for the rest of the season after his knee surgery. Thomas Partey (thigh) and Takehiro Tomiyasu (calf) continue to remain on the sidelines.
Here is how Arsenal could line up against Southampton:
Goalkeeper: Aaron Ramsdale has missed just one Premier League game since the September international break. He could not do much to prevent Brighton’s superb strikes last weekend, but will be hoping to keep his 13th clean sheet of the league campaign at St Mary’s.
Rob Holding starts
Defence: Mikel Arteta is bound to tinker with his backline after the experiment of playing Granit Xhaka at left-back failed to work out against Brighton. The Swiss’ experience was missed in the centre of the park. He could be play in his customary position on Saturday.
Nuno Tavares is the natural left-back available in the Arsenal squad, but considering his recent dismal performances, Arteta could resist the prospect of starting him. Instead, Cedric Soares could slot into the left-back role. This could mean Ben White playing at right-back while Rob Holding comes into the XI to partner Gabriel Magalhaes in central defence.
Midfield: Xhaka should operate in his regular midfield position at St Mary’s and could be accompanied by Albert Sambi Lokonga. Mohamed Elneny is the other senior alternative in the first-team squad, but the Egyptian has not played since New Year’s Day. Lokonga is clearly ahead of him in the pecking order.
Nketiah replaces Lacazette
Attack: The attack could see a few changes. Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard and Gabriel Martinelli have been the regular attacking trio behind the centre-forward over the past few months. Emile Smith Rowe is likely to be the player missing out.
Alexandre Lacazette has not scored from open play since December. Eddie Nketiah, who nearly bagged Arsenal’s equaliser against Brighton, could be rewarded with a starting spot ahead of him. Lacazette also appears doubtful for the game, having missed training.
Expected Arsenal line-up (4-2-3-1) vs Southampton