Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta’s team selection for this lunchtime’s Premier League clash with Fulham at the Emirates Stadium has sparked a reaction from some Gunners fans on social media.
The Gunners, who head into this lunchtime’s tussle looking to register a third successive win in all competitions, will be brimming with confidence following Thursday evening’s 4-0 win over Slavia Prague in the second-leg of their UEFA Europa League quarter-final.
The win over the Czech giants secured the Gunners’ passage to the last-four, booking a semi-final showdown with former manager Unai Emery’s Villarreal.
Although the semi-final with the Spanish giants is the Gunners’ most anticipated fixture over the coming weeks, today’s clash with Fulham represents an opportunity to close the gap on both the top-four and north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
Even though Arteta’s troops are strong favourites to win this lunchtime’s London derby and close the gap on Spurs to just two points, they will have to get the better of a Fulham side who have everything to play for in their fight against the drop.
The Gunners are once again without David Luiz (knee), Kieran Tierney (knee), Martin Odegaard (ankle) and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Malaria) through both injury and illness, meaning they have lost some of their most important figures. However, Arteta still has no shortage of options to call upon.
Rob Holding, Granit Xhaka and Alexandre Lacazette have all been named in this lunchtime’s starting line-up, as Arteta looks to guide his side to a first home win in the Premier League since March 14.
As well as Xhaka and Lacazette making the starting XI, Mat Ryan, Hector Bellerin and Gabriel Martinelli have also been awarded starting berths by Arteta.
Arsenal starting line-up: Ryan; Bellerin, Holding, Gabriel, Xhaka; Elneny, Ceballos; Saka, Smith Rowe, Martinelli; Lacazette. Substitutes: Leno, Cedric, Chambers, Mari, Partey, Willian, Pepe, Nelson, Nketiah.
Following Thursday’s win over Slavia, Arteta has made a total of five changes to his starting line-up, with Gabriel Magalhaes, Mohamed Elneny, Ryan, Bellerin and Martinelli coming in and Bernd Leno, Calum Chambers, Pablo Mari, Thomas Partey and Nicolas Pepe dropping out.
Most of the reaction to Arteta’s surprise selection choice has centred around Martinelli’s return to the starting line-up, opposed to an awful lot of bad blood considering the changes to keep the squad fresh.
Martinelli was dropped to the bench against Slavia in midweek, but did start against Sheffield United last weekend, meaning he is starting his second Premier League match in succession.
Below, football.london has taken a closer look at what some Arsenal fans have had to say on social media in response to Arteta’s decision.
As you can see from the above selection of tweets, Arteta’s decision to recall the Brazilian has gone down a treat, with many tipping him to combine with Emile Smith Rowe and Lacazette in attack.
Martinelli scored once during last week’s win at Sheffield United whilst Lacazette netted a double.
You can follow all of this afternoon’s action from the Emirates Stadium by keeping tabs on our live blog.