Arsenal likely 4-2-3-1 v Middlesbrough: Elneny starts after playmaker blow
By Tony Hughes
Mohamed Elneny could be in line for an Arsenal recall after Santi Cazorla emerged as a major doubt for Saturday’s clash against Middlesbrough.
Arsene Wenger revealed at his pre-match press conference on Friday morning that the Spaniard “got a kick” in the 6-0 midweek Champions League demolition of Ludogorets and is in a race against time to be fit the Premier League match this weekend.
Cazorla played 57 minutes of the comfortable win before being substituted and replaced by Elneny.
The January signing could now replace the playmaker in central midfield and line up alongside Francis Coquelin against Aitor Karanka’s side, with Granit Xhaka suspended and unavailable for selection.
The potential loss of Cazorla would be a huge blow given that he has been a key figure in the team that have steamrollered most opposition during Arsenal’s run of seven consecutive wins.
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Wenger will likely revert back to the main men in that run of wins after giving chances to the fringe players on Wednesday night.
Regular league goalkeeper Petr Cech is likely to come back into the starting eleven in place of his deputy David Ospina.
Nacho Monreal is set to replace Kieran Gibbs at left-back and youngster Alex Iwobi will likely to come in for midweek goal scorer Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Attacking trio Mesut Ozil, Theo Walcott and Alexis Sanchez all scored against Ludogorets and they have been in scintillating form in front of goal in the new campaign.
Between them they have scored 12 of Arsenal’s 19 goals in the league and the Chile international has adapted to his new role as a striker impressively.
This means that the best that Olivier Giroud, who returned to training this week, can hope for is a place on the club’s bench against the north-east outfit.
Arsenal are second in the Premier League and will be expecting to take the full three points against Middlesbrough at home.
In other Arsenal teamn news, Bellerin hailed a “great night” against Ludogorets on Wednesday evening.