Season restart preview: Arsenal

Joe Prince-Wright
NBC Sports

With the 2019-20 Premier League season soon to restart, let’s focus on all 20 clubs and see where they are at ahead of the final nine weeks of the season as Arsenal are up first.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]

Focusing on Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal, who had plenty of momentum before the suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic, they now have plenty of players back fit and ready for a late season surge.

Let’s take a closer look at all things Arsenal when it comes to the season restart.

Outlook: Arteta has lost just one of his 10 Premier League games in charge of Arsenal and somehow he has managed to solidify their defensive unit and the Gunners could be set for a late top four push. They do have a game in hand on their rivals but that is away at Man City. However you look at it, Arteta has Arsenal grinding defensively and we all know they have the attacking weapons to score goals galore. They are in the FA Cup last eight too and there is plenty of optimism around the Emirates Stadium as Arteta has placed his faith in young homegrown talents.

Tactical analysis: What has been the biggest change since Unai Emery was fired? Arsenal have kept things tight at the back with a solid back four which has seen David Luiz and Shkodran Mustafi strike up an unlikely partnership. With Granit Xhaka and Dani Ceballos ahead of them there is a mixture of grit and flair too. Stats wise, Arsenal have faced the sixth-most shots in the Premier League this season (415) and among the ‘big six’ clubs, only bitter rivals Tottenham have faced more (418). Arsenal have to stay solid and stop giving up so many shooting opportunities. If they can do that, you always fancy to knock in a few at the other end.

Possible XI (4-2-3-1) 

—– Leno —–

— Bellerin — Luiz — Mustafi — Saka —

—- Xhaka —- Ceballos —-

—- Pepe —- Ozil —- Aubameyang —-

—– Nketiah —–

Notice that there is no Alexandre Lacazette, Kieran Tierney or Matteo Guendouzi. Lacazette and Guendouzi do not appear to be favorites of Arteta, while Tierney has been unlucky with injuries and the emergence of Bukayo Saka playing out of position at left back. Do not be surprised to see Saka pushed up to be a winger and Tierney come in, while January loan signings Pablo Mari and Cedric Soares may also be given the chance to establish themselves. The lineup above perhaps isn’t their strongest on paper but it is the on which was working best for Arteta before the suspension arrived.

Remaining schedule:
Home: Norwich, Leicester, Liverpool, Watford
Away: Man City, Brighton, Southampton, Wolves, Tottenham, Aston Villa

Predicted finish: With Arsenal currently in ninth place in the table, it seems unlikely they can make a late surge into the top four but they are just eight points off fourth-place Chelsea and have a game in-hand. Arteta would surely be happy with a top six finish and run to at least the FA Cup final. Given everything that has happened at Arsenal this season with Emery leaving, Arteta arriving and several stars not performing, that wouldn’t be bad at all.

Season restart preview: Arsenal originally appeared on NBCSports.com

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