Arsenal will be hoping to secure their seventh consecutive win in the league when they welcome Aitor Karanka and his Middlesbrough charges at the Emirates on Saturday. The Gunners, who are no doubt the favourites on the evening are now the toast of the English football fans mainly due to their consistent form this season after gaining one point in their first two games against the likes of Liverpool and Leicester City.
This season, Arsenal have shown with the win over Ludogorets in the Champions League that they can deliver even when playing unconvincingly, which hindered them last season. Although the 6-0 scoreline is flattering, it goes to show the level of drive, determination and ambitiousness imbibed in this current Arsenal side.
The North London club on paper have a run of easy games and it is now looking as though they would not bottle this opportunity like they have done in the previous seasons. To face a resilient Middlesborough side, Arsene Wenger will have to select his strongest XI considering Aitor Karanka’s men have a record of rarely conceding more than one goal in a game this season coupled with Middlesbrough’s narrow defeat to Watford last weekend, meaning the North East side would definitely be coming all out at the Emirates on Saturday.
On the other hand, despite our consistent form, Arsenal have injury worries and suspension to contend with as Santi Cazorla and Xhaka, are unlikely to feature as a result of Injury and suspension respectively, depriving the team of two of their best central midfielders of which it will be difficult to fill the void their absence will leave.
Petr Cech is injury-free which implies he is sure to start in the game. The 33-year-old on Wednesday against Ludogorets was seen nudging his knees whilst seated on bench as David Ospina started implying he is eagerly anticipating this weekend’s game.
The defensive partnership of Shkodran Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny is sure to continue as the team have been spectacular with them having conceded a meagre two goals in the last six games spanning across all competitions.
Nacho Monreal and his defensive counterpart, Hector Bellerin, are expected to man the left and right flanks respectively.
The midfield is somewhat depleted at the moment since the duo of Xhaka and Cazorla will be absent. However, one expects Francis Coquelin and Mohammed El’Neny to play in that position. However, I would not bat an eyelid if Aaron Ramsey surprisingly starts the game in central midfield instead of in attacking midfield position after recovering from injury and seeing some game time with the reserve team last week.
Alexis Sanchez will play from the right flank of the attack while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could be relegated to the bench for in form Alex Iwobi who has been impressive this season.
Mesut Ozil, the scorer of a hat trick in the Champions League game against Ludogorets on Wednesday and the man of the moment, will likely play behind the main striker.
It is difficult to predict the starter for the game but I will go for Theo Walcott (eight goals in all competitions this season) considering his impressive form in front of goal and the fact that Arsenal are home and are playing a recently promoted Middlesbrough side. If this happens, it means the likes of Lucas Perez and Oliver Giroud will have the bench to contend with.