Mikel Arteta will need a huge performance from his players on Wednesday as Arsenal continue their bid to end a miserable season on a high in the final games of the campaign.
The Gunners beat West Brom at the Emirates on Sunday, relegating the Baggies in the process. Unfortunately for Arsenal, their next game pits them against a side performing a little better.
Arsenal face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge this week. Thomas Tuchel’s men boast an outrageous record since his appointment earlier in the campaign.
Arteta may therefore, be tempted to play his strongest possible side for the clash. However, he may have been dealt a blow ahead of the contest.
Emile Smith Rowe looked to have sustained a knock against West Brom. So there may be a question mark hanging over whether he will be involved against the Blues.
In fact, Arteta may end up making as many as five changes from the side that beat the Baggies.
Alexandre Lacazette – who earns £182,000-a-week, according to Spotrac – and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang may come back in, with Smith Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli missing out. Willian may also drop down to the bench.
Bukayo Saka and Nicolas Pepe could start either side of the two forwards. And that may present an opportunity for £25 million man Kieran Tierney to return to the starting lineup.
In midfield, Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka – if he is fit – could start together. It feels as though the pair make up Arsenal’s best partnership in that position.
Dani Ceballos and Mohamed Elneny may therefore, miss out.
Arteta is not going to be able to silence all of his doubters in the final games of the campaign, no matter what they now do. But a win against Chelsea may boost his hopes of being given more time.
With that in mind, here is how Arsenal may line up on Wednesday…