In our biggest test yet this season, we will host our London rivals Chelsea at Emirates Stadium on Saturday. The West London club have been sort of our Achilles Heel in recent years. We have failed to defeat them since our 5-3 win at Stamford Bridge during the 2011-12 season.
Last season, we lost both our games against them and accumulated a total of three cards. The Saturday’s game is a golden opportunity for us to get three points from that lot. They have failed to register a win in their last two league games while we are on a three-game winning streak.
However, Diego Costa is in good form, and our defenders will have to figure out a way to deal with him.
Here’s how I think we will line up on Saturday.
Petr Cech was not in the match-day squad for our League Cup win over Nottingham Forrest, but he will return in posts against his former club on Saturday.
Our back four is pretty much locked up at the moment. Our Spanish will return in their usual roles – Hector Bellerin will take up the right-back spot, and Nacho Monreal will take the left-back spot.
Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi will continue their centre-back partnership.
Arsene Wenger faces a huge conundrum when it comes to midfield positions in our squad. The partnership of Santi Cazorla and Francis Coquelin worked really well in the win against Hull while Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny were fabulous in the win over Nottingham Forrest. Xhaka has further staked his claim by scoring marvellous long-range goals in last two games.
I think Wenger will adopt a conservative approach in the game of such magnitude and will persist with the partnership of Cazorla and Coquelin.
Wenger doesn’t face any dilemma when it comes to the number ten position in the team. Mesut Ozil has his place locked down in the starting eleven.
Alex Iwobi was impressive against Hull, and I expect him to keep his place on the left wing. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain played 90 minutes Nottingham, so he is likely to start this game on the bench.
Theo Walcott will take the position on the opposite wing. Arsene Wenger revealed in his pre-match conference that Olivier Giroud faces a late fitness test ahead of the game.
Alexis Sanchez scored a brace against Hull City and, in all probability, will keep the striker role. That’s exactly the same lineup that we played against Hull City last weekend.