Journalist Charles Watts has claimed that Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta will have some big calls in terms of selection ahead of their Boxing Day Premier League clash.
The first decision for the match will be deciding whether or not to pick recent World Cup returnee William Saliba or Rob Holding – a player who has featured in a number of Arsenal’s mid-season friendly matches.
Another concern is that both Oleksandr Zinchenko and Kieran Tierney could be out for the game, with the Ukrainian not training all week and Tierney missing the Gunners’ recent friendly match against Luton Town.
Speaking on his YouTube channel, Watts said he thinks that Arteta will hand Holding the nod over Saliba.
He stated: “It’s just going to come down to a straight decision for Mikel Arteta. I’ve just got a feeling he’s going to go [with] Rob Holding, just given Holding has played all these games, he’s definitely match-sharp, he’s been playing alongside Gabriel in all the matches. I think he might go Rob Holding, but we shall wait and see on that one.
“He’s got big decisions to make at left-back depending on what happens with Tierney and Zinchenko. Zinchenko hasn’t featured at all, we’re not sure if he’s even back in training yet.
“Tierney didn’t feature in the friendly against Luton, Cedric played at left-back, which is a worry… if you’re going to have to move things around, if you’ve got Zinchenko and Tierney out, [it’s] far from ideal when you’d much rather not be playing Cedric at left-back against West Ham. But that could be the only option available to Mikel Arteta.”
TIF Thoughts on Watts’ comments…
We believe that Arteta needs to keep his players fit and that it is not worth rushing these players back from injury as it could only make them worse and rule them out for the long term. Given what is at stake this season, it is surely far too risky.
If Saliba doesn’t have the match sharpness yet, then Holding should start against West Ham. Similarly, should Zinchenko and Tierney not be available, then Cedric should get the nod at left-back.
Arsenal will want to maintain their position at the top of the Premier League, with the Gunners five points ahead of Manchester City in second.
Arteta’s side will want to keep their starting XI and fringe players fit, so it will be a team effort with the fixture congestion caused by the World Cup.