Arsenal predicted XI vs Tottenham as White makes first start but Aubameyang misses out

It might be slightly cliche to say, but there is no such thing as a friendly in the North London Derby.

Arsenal’s trip to Tottenham on Sunday may be the final non-competitive fixture of their pre-season schedule, but they go into the game knowing that anything less than a victory will be poorly received.

Of course Mikel Arteta will be looking to the game as a chance to try out some of his new tactical tweaks and work out some of the way she plans to get over the key absences he is likely to face going into the first day of the Premier League season against Brentford next Friday.

In an ideal world the Gunners would have already signed the back up goalkeeper to Bernd Leno by this point in the transfer window, but unless the hunt for a home grown number two concludes by Sunday at 14:00, it will be the German in goal.

Runar Alex Runarsson may have been given 45 minutes in the behind closed doors game against Watford, but the decision not to include him at all against Chelsea is an indication of how little faith Arteta has in the Iceland international. The same can be said of Arthur Okonkwo who has shown himself to not quite be confident enough at senior level yet, although at 19-years-of-age he has plenty of time to get there.

Calum Chambers was given the start at the Emirates last Sunday before being replaced by Hector Bellerin whose error gave Chelsea the winner.

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Having not featured at all against the Blues, you would imagine that the North London Derby this weekend will be a chance to get some minutes into the legs of Cedric who understands intends to stay at Arsenal despite reported interest from Fenerbahce.

Sunday’s game at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is likely to see Ben White given his first start since signing for the Gunners for £50 million from Brighton, and with Gabriel still recovering from his knee injury you would assume he’ll be partnered by Pablo Mari.

At left back Arteta won’t want to risk tiring Kieran Tierney out at all before the Premier League campaign gets underway at Brentford, and as a result you’d imagine Nuno Tavares will be given his first taste of a North London Derby from the off.

Thomas Partey suffered an ankle problem in the defeat to Chelsea in pre-season.
Thomas Partey suffered an ankle problem in the defeat to Chelsea in pre-season.

In front of the back four the injury to Thomas Partey provides probably the biggest dilemma Arteta will have to face this pre-season.

The Ghanaian had been excellent in each of the warm up friendlies only to suffer an ankle injury last week after a hefty tackle from Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

Conventional wisdom based on last season would dictate that Mohamed Elneny will be called up to replace him alongside Granit Xhaka, but the early form of Albert Sambi Lokonga suggests he is far more adept at replicating the progressive passing Partey offers to the side.

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Lokonga and Xhaka have never played before, so where better than Sunday’s match to allow them to build up a partnership in midfield ahead of the coming season.

Apart from Leno the only two players to play the full 90 minutes against Chelsea were Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Nicolas Pepe.

The pair started as left and right wingers respectively and you would expect that Arteta wouldn’t want to risk overplaying either, with both set to be involved in the opening day fixture at the Brentford Community Stadium.

Bukayo Saka returned to training this week, but may not quite be ready for the start, so instead Reiss Nelson and Willian will likely be the two come in and start despite speculation over the future of both players.

This will mean Emile Smith Rowe will continue at number 10 despite the ongoing rumours over the impending arrival of James Maddison, which would surely force the Hale Ender out to the left it were to happen.

Up top both Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah could leave the Emirates this summer with both having just one year left on their respective deals, but it is likely that the pair will compete for the centre forward spot on Sunday with Flo Balogun having not even been involved in the squad against Chelsea last week.

Arteta may just opt for the Frenchman as he seeks to go tried and tested options in what is ultimately a game he will want to win.

Arsenal predicted XI vs Tottenham: Leno; Cedric, White, Mari, Tavares; Lokonga, Xhaka; Nelson, Smith Rowe, Willian; Lacazette.

Source by Football London

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