Arsenal can never catch a break from drama, and there have been some concerning developments ahead of their Premier League opener against Brentford tonight.
Both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette miss the game due to illness, and having prepared for this fixture over the last week or so, it’s certainly not an ideal situation for Mikel Arteta.
This has provided a long awaited opportunity to Folarin Balogun, who I believe is more than capable of filling in and I’m really excited to see how he gets on up front.
Calum Chambers deservedly gets the nod at Right-Back, I’m not convinced Hector Bellerin is the strongest option and Chambers has looked solid when called upon.
I’m glad Arteta has opted for Sambi Lokonga as Granit Xhaka’s partner in midfield, he has looked very sharp in pre-season and I think he could be a really important player for us.
Likewise with Ben White, who I expect to offer composure and stability within the backline. I’ve been really impressed with what I have seen so far from the Englishman and envisage him being a brick wall at Centre-Back this season.
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The absence of Aubameyang and Lacazette has also meant that Martinelli is involved despite coming back from the Tokyo Olympics earlier in the week, and although it isn’t ideal, we all know the quality he can produce over 90 minutes. I just hope he is fully fit and tonight isn’t too early for him.
In terms of other starters, it’s no surprise to see Bernd Leno, Pablo Mari, Kieran Tierney, Emile Smith Rowe and Nicolas Pepe feature.
There’s no excuse not to get a win tonight, the team is strong enough despite the missing personnel.
What do you think about the starting eleven? Follow our new Arsenal Fan Brands Writer Chris Davison on Twitter to get involved in the discussion and give us your thoughts in the comments section below.