How Arsenal could line up against Man City as Thomas Partey gets set for debut

Mikel Arteta returns to the scene of one of his most disappointing evenings as Arsenal boss on Saturday night.

In the first game following the coronavirus enforced suspension in June, the Gunners were heavily beaten by Man City in a 3-0 defeat.

The Spaniard did exact some revenge on his former employers when Arsenal beat City in the semi-final of the FA Cup in a clear indicator of the club’s progression under his stewardship.

Arsenal carried that positivity into the start of this campaign, picking up nine points from their opening four Premier League games.

Their only defeat came against the champions Liverpool and Arsenal will be hoping to prove they are one of their contenders this time around, with a positive result against Pep Guardiola’s side.

Their deadline day acquisition of Thomas Partey, is one that Arteta believes will add the kind of tactical flexibility that will allow them to challenge the best sides in the division.

"I think he allows us to play different formations and he can fit in within those formations in different positions, which is a really good thing to have in a squad where, in midfield, I think we were a little bit short,” he said after signing the former Atletico Madrid midfielder.

"We believe he has the right qualities, with his character and his personality and as well with his technical qualities and positional options that he can give to the team.”

He looks certain to go straight into a midfield that did get overrun at times during the defeat at Anfield.

The biggest question comes in who will partner the £52.5million man in the heart of Arsenal’s midfield. While Arteta has talked about the ability to play different shapes, it is likely he will stick with the 3-4-3 formation that has worked so well in the first 12 months of his tenure.

Granit Xhaka, Mohamed Elneny and Dani Ceballos have all been used by Arteta in recent weeks in a variety of combinations. But looking at the win over City at Wembley, Ceballos was given the nod over Xhaka and Elneny and provides the Gunners with the link between midfield and attack.

Behind Partey, Arsenal look like they may have to make changes to the trio that look extremely promising.

Kieran Tierney is still self-isolating after coming into contact with a Scotland teammate who tested positive for coronavirus on international duty.

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New signings Willian and Gabriel Magalhaes both hit the ground running against Fulham but Mikel Arteta is still on the lookout for new signings. Lyon midfielder Houssem Aouar and Brentford keeper David Raya are two of the names on their radar.

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The Gunners had requested special dispensation but looks unlikely to be available, meaning Rob Holding could return to the line-up.

Holding had played well prior to dropping to the bench and will join David Luiz and the hugely impressive Gabriel Magalhaes.

Hector Bellerin and Bukayo Saka will continue as wing-backs, with the latter often tasked with playing in a number of positions during the 90 minutes.

In the forward areas, Arsenal will be desperate for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to have a greater influence than he did against Liverpool, while Alexandre Lacazette will surely come back in the line-up for Eddie Nketiah.

The Frenchman has scored three times already this season and was a surprise exclusion in the win over Sheffield United.

The final decision for Arteta is whether he starts Willian or the ever-improving Nicolas Pepe, but the Brazilian’s work-rate could be vital in an encounter where they are unlikely to have lots of the ball.

Arsenal (3-4-3): Leno; Holding, Luiz, Gabriel; Bellerin, Partey, Ceballos, Saka; Willian, Lacazette, Aubameyang.

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