Five Arsenal players to be given chance vs PSV as Mikel Arteta faces major Tottenham headache
While Mikel Arteta will be desperate to mark Arsenal’s long-awaited return to the Champions League with a statement win, he’ll also be just as keen to trounce Tottenham on home turf
With the North London Derby just around the corner, Mikel Arteta has several team selection dilemmas ahead of Arsenal’s opening Champions League group stage clash against PSV. The Gunners will welcome Peter Bosz’s side to the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday evening in what is expected to be a blockbuster tie.
While Arteta will be keen to mark the club’s long-awaited return to the competition with a win, he’ll also be eager to protect the likes of Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard and William Saliba for what will be a fiery affair with Tottenham. Ahead of the clash against PSV, the Arsenal boss admitted that pride is on the line too.
The Gunners failed miserably in the Europa League last term, losing to Sporting, Villarreal and Olympiacos. Arteta said: “Every day you have something to prove. It’s the sport, that’s the thing, tomorrow we have to prove.
“I have to prove that we have prepared in the best possible way. And we are giving the players the best possible chance to win the game, that’s the reality in the sport.”
So, with Arteta juggling the Gunners’ priorities, football.london have taken a look at the four players who could be given the chance to impress – and maybe even force themselves into the starting lineup at the weekend.
Emile Smith Rowe
Since making his return from injury, Smith Rowe has rarely had a look in so he’ll be hoping for regular appearances in the cup competitions, like the Champions League, this season. The 23-year-old is an incredible talent who also offers Arteta plenty of tactical options – he just needs a run of games to pick up from where he left off as one of England’s top attacking midfielders.
While Vieira has been given more and more opportunities recently, the Portuguese star will want to give Arteta no choice but to make him a key fixture in the starting lineup. The Gunners boss is well aware of the midfielder’s talents, admitting that he’s not been played as much as he deserves.
“That was my fault. I said that many times, I haven’t played him enough,” said Arteta ahead of the PSV tie. “He hasn’t had enough room in the team with the competitions that we play to participate more, but we see every day the talent he has got and what he can bring to the team. I was really happy with his performance at the weekend.”
Cedric may not be the first name on the team sheet but he’s certainly a viable option at right-back if Arteta wants to rest Ben White and Oleksandr Zinchenko after the Everton game, with Takehiro Tomiyasu filling in at left-back. With just one year remaining on the Portuguese star’s contract, he’ll be looking to give Arsenal a reason to extend his deal.
Charles Sagoe Jr
Sagoe Jr was heavily involved in training with the first-team at London Colney before the PSV clash after being drafted in as a replacement for Gabriel Martinelli. While the 19-year-old winger may not necessarily start, he could very well come off the bench if Arteta is either looking to protect the likes of Bukayo Saka and Leandro Trossard for the Tottenham bout or for some fresh legs to simply see out the game.
With Thomas Partey nursing a knock, Elneny could be looked to at some stage as somebody who can ease the workload on Declan Rice. Arteta will undoubtedly be planning for the North London Derby with the former West Ham star so the Egyptian could make his long-awaited return from injury.
“He’s in a good place,” said the Arsenal boss. “It’s been a while and it’s been a really significant injury but I think he’s in the latter stages of that rehab process. He’s been training now for almost two weeks with the team and he’s in a good place and it’s always great to have him around.”