Arsenal: Arteta says no one can question Ozil's legacy
Arsenal will begin their FA Cup trophy defence against Newcastle United on Saturday at the Emirates Stadium. Boss Mikel Arteta is expected to make a number of changes from the side that hit four against West Bromwich Albion in their last outing, with tough tests against Southampton and Manchester United on the horizon in the Premier League. Express Sport brings you the predicted Gunners lineup for Saturday’s third round clash.
Icelandic stopper Runar Alex Runarsson is likely to start between the sticks against the Magpies, in line with his role as Arteta’s first-choice goalkeeper in cup competitions.
Bernd Leno will be saved for league action, while Matt Macey will not be involved after sealing a permanent move to Scottish side Hibernian on Friday.
Runarsson has come under fire for his performances this season, most notably during the Carabao Cup quarter-final defeat to Manchester City when his error allowed Riyad Mahrez’s free-kick over the line.
He will be looking to regain his confidence against Newcastle, with Steve Bruce’s side having been unsuccessful against top-flight opposition in the FA Cup since 2012.
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Defence: Cedric, Luiz, Gabriel, Maitland-Niles
Arsenal have struggled at the back at times this season, but will need to be solid on Saturday in order to avoid an embarrassingly early cup exit.
Former Southampton defender Cedric is expected to feature from the off on Saturday alongside Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who could come in at left-back as Arteta looks to rotate his squad.
Gabriel Magalhaes will likely return to the side after recovering from coronavirus, with David Luiz filling the other central defensive spot having not been involved since Arsenal’s Premier League defeat to Everton in December.
Regular starters Kieran Tierney and Hector Bellerin could be named on the bench or miss out altogether.
Midfield: Ceballos, Partey, Willock
The big news in midfield could come in the form of a return to action for summer signing Thomas Partey, who has been struggling with a troublesome thigh injury since the beginning of November.
Saturday’s clash could provide him with some much-needed minutes as he looks to gain match sharpness ahead of the second half of the season.
Dani Ceballos is likely to sit alongside him in front of the back four, while academy product Joe Willock could be given responsibility for the team’s creative duties.
The 21-year-old has shown promise when called upon in the Europa League, and will be hoping to chip in with another goalscoring contribution or two against Newcastle.
Attack: Martinelli, Pepe, Nketiah
Young winger Gabriel Martinelli, who has impressed since his return from a long-term knee injury, is expected to start the match as he continues to chase peak fitness.
Nicolas Pepe could partner him on the opposite flank, with England under-21 record goalscorer Eddie Nketiah at the tip of Arsenal’s attacking trident.
The latter has failed to convince fans that he can be the answer to the club’s woes in attack, but is likely to receive the opportunity to add to his goal tally on Saturday.
Prospect Folarin Balogun, who has been linked with a move to Liverpool in recent weeks, may be named among the substitutes at the Emirates Stadium.
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