Arsenal travel to Merseyside tonight to take on an Everton team that are struggling for form in the Premier League.
Rafa Benitez’s side haven’t won since a 2-0 home victory over bottom of the table Norwich City in September and come into the game off the back of a 4-1 drubbing at the hands of their closest rivals, Liverpool. They find themselves in 16th place and in a difficult position heading into the tricky winter period.
On the other hand, the Gunners have suffered a slight dip following on from their impressive unbeaten streak that lasted from September until the end of November.
Following a 3-2 defeat to Manchester United on Thursday night and a weekend of good results for West Ham, United and Tottenham, the Gunners have temporarily slipped to seventh in the table – although they can climb back to fifth with victory over Everton.
Luckily, they have near enough a full squad to help them do so, as Mikel Arteta is only troubled by slight worries for Emile Smith Rowe and Bernd Leno, and long-term injuries for Sead Kolasinac and Granit Xhaka, the latter of whom is not far away from returning after an impressive week in training.
In the trip to Old Trafford, Smith Rowe suffered a slight issue with his groin and will consequently be assessed ahead of the trip to Goodison Park.
Speaking on the injury in his pre-match press conference, Arteta said: “He [Emile Smith Rowe] had some discomfort during the game [against Manchester United] and we decided to take him off. He’s been evolving well over the last few days, so we have to wait until tomorrow to see how he is.”
Leno is suffering from a similar injury that he picked up in training. Whether he’ll be fit to travel to Everton remains to be seen. Kolasinac is still sidelined by an injury to his left ankle that he picked up on international duty for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Meanwhile, Arteta has admitted that Xhaka could be set for an early return to the Arsenal line-up. Everton may come too soon, but he’s improving quicker than expected.
“This week he [Granit Xhaka] has progressed again to a different level, and tomorrow we will assess how he is, have a conversation with him and decide when is the best moment to start to give him some exposure in games,” said Arteta.
With the latest injury news addressed, we take a look at the full squad Arsenal has to choose from today:
Goalkeepers: Aaron Ramsdale, Bernd Leno (doubt), Karl Jakob Hein.
Defenders: Kieran Tierney, Ben White, Gabriel Magalhaes, Rob Holding, Cedric Soares, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Nuno Tavares, Calum Chambers, Pablo Mari.
Midfielders: Thomas Partey, Martin Odegaard, Emile Smith Rowe (doubt), Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Albert Sambi Lokonga, Mohamed Elneny.
Forwards: Bukayo Saka, Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepe, Folarin Balogun, Eddie Nketiah, Gabriel Martinelli.