By Tom Blackburn
Arsene Wenger has named his starting line-up for Arsenal’s pre-season clash against Manchester City, with Alexis Sanchez as a lone striker and rookie Rob Holding in the heart of defence.
The two Premier League giants go head-to-head in a pre-season friendly on Sunday at the Ullevi Stadium in Sweden.
This is the last of the Gunners’ pre-season friendly matches, and Wenger’s selection was a potential hint as to his planned starting XI for next Sunday’s Premier League opener against Liverpool.
Arsenal face the prospect of beginning their Premier League campaign without French pair Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny, who have missed all of the Arsenal’s pre-season preparations after being given extended breaks.
They both had major roles in France’s run to the final of Euro 2016, which they lost 1-0 to Portugal.
With Per Mertesacker out for up to five months with a knee injury, Danny Welbeck expected to miss most of the season and Theo Walcott keen to re-categorise himself as a right-winger, Wenger could be forced to trust in youth and play some senior men out of position if he does not make any new signings next week.
Sanchez has been used almost exclusively on the flanks since his 2014 arrival from Barcelona, while Holding, 20, only joined Arsenal from Bolton last month.
The club are in the market for a new centre-back and striker but have failed to push through deals for prime targets like Alexandre Lacazette and Shkodran Mustafi.
However on Saturday night, Gazette Dello Sport journalist and transfer expert Giulianelli revealed on his personal Twitter account that the Lacazette deal now seems “less likely” and Wenger’s team could now turn their attention to Javier Hernandez.