Arsenal expected 4-2-3-1 v Preston: Welbeck returns in 10 changes
COMMENT By Harvey Byrne
Arsene Wenger could make up to 10 changes to his side which is set to face Preston North End in the FA Cup on Saturday evening.
The north London giants battled back from three goals down to draw with Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium on Tuesday evening and it is expected that the French manager will give a number of his first team a rest.
However, the Gunners do still boast a number of emerging youngsters and an injury Lucas Perez suffered against the Cherries could bring an early comeback to the side for Danny Welbeck.
The 26-year-old England international striker has not played since the 2-2 draw against Manchester City in May.
But, Wenger hinted that he could make a return to the line-up against Preston with Perez suffering an ankle injury.
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“We might have a problem with Lucas Perez because he injured his ankle,” said Wenger, as quoted by IB Times. “We will see how he responds to that. I haven’t’ decided yet but Danny Welbeck could be [available].
“It depends on Perez a little bit. We will see how [Danny] feels physically. His fitness level is quite good. The idea is to give him two or three games in the U23s but the situation is not ideal and sometimes you have to hurry up.”
The French boss is also like to recall Emiliano Martinez, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Rob Holding, Gabriel, Kieran Gibbs, Mohamed Elneny, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jeff Reine-Adelaide and Chuba Akpom to his side.
This is expected to see Petr Cech, Hector Bellerin, Shkodran Mustafi, Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal, Francis Coquelin, Aaron Ramsey, Alex Iwobi, Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud fall out of the team.
Martinez is expected to start between the sticks for the Gunners as the designated cup goalkeeper with David Ospina being used in the Champions League.
The 24-year-old Argentinian has played in three encounters so far this campaign, conceding two and keeping two clean sheets.
Meanwhile, the defence is likely to see a mix of youth and experience with Maitland-Niles, Holding, Gabriel and Gibbs making up the back four.
Maitland-Niles is usually suited to a more attacking position, but with Oxlade-Chamberlain in the team it is likely that he will take up a similar role as he did against Nottingham Forest earlier in the campaign.
Meanwhile, the midfield sees the only player kept in the side from the Bournemouth draw in Granit Xhaka alongside Elneny.
The Gunners suffered another injury blow in the centre of the park on Tuesday with Coquelin hobbling off the pitch. This has left the north London side with little options as Santi Cazorla is also injured and Jack Wilshere is out on loan, meaning Xhaka is likely to stay in the team.
They will then be looking to supply an attacking midfield three, which contains exciting youth prospects Akpom and Reine-Adelaide alongside Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Apkom has only recently returned from an injury himself, while Reine-Adelaide has made regular appearances in the domestic cups this campaign.
Despite a second string team, Wenger’s side will still be aiming to progress through to the next round against the team sat in 11th in the English second tier.
The match is one of the fixtures selected for TV this weekend and will be shown live on BT Sport 2 for the 5.30pm kick off.
In other Arsenal team news, a report has stated how this Gunners star breached the club’s penalty protocol.