Arsenal, who are top of the Premier League at the first international break, face Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates on Saturday. The Gunners have yet to beat a ‘big six’ side this season after losing to Manchester United earlier this month. A win over Antonio Conte’s men could silence many doubters.
Mikel Arteta will want his best players for this test, but fates have conspired against him so far. Kieran Tierney should be fit after missing Scotland’s 0-0 draw with Ukraine. Oleksandr Zinchenko, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Martin Odegaard, and Thomas Partey are questionable.
Epl247.co.uk understands that Arsenal will assess all four of them at London Colney in the coming days. Partey’s absence raises a familiar question for Arsenal. In his absence, they struggled late last season, and despite extending Mohamed Elneny’s contract and viewing Albert Sambi Lokonga as a six, there are still doubts over the club’s ability to replace Partey. A solution may have emerged during the international break.
Granit Xhaka has created the joint-most chances in the Premier League this season with Kevin De Bruyne. As a result of his position change, Arsenal fans sang his name after the 3-0 win over Brentford before the international break. After the game, Arteta praised the turnaround.
The Spaniard said, “I think he feels love and respect both ways.” “Our supporters singing to him emotionally inspires him to give more. I’m glad because he deserves it.”
Xhaka played a different role for Switzerland during the international break. Xhaka was praised for his box-to-box work at the Euros last summer, but he played a deeper role against Spain and the Czech Republic.
The former Borussia Monchengladbach player was especially impressive against Spain. Against Luis Enrique’s high-pressing side, Xhaka handled pressure well with his back to play.
The 30-year-old has said he prefers a more advanced role that maximizes his possession skills, but Arteta sees him as a six. “Sambi and Granit can play there,” the Spaniard said after failing to sign Douglas Luiz.
Partey’s return for Saturday’s match is a priority for Arsenal as they seek revenge on Tottenham after losing Champions League players to them last season. Xhaka has shown he can excel if the Ghanaian is unavailable.