Arsenal

Odegaard and Zinchenko return, Gabriel Jesus risk – Arsenal changes vs Tottenham

Arsenal face Tottenham in the first game after the international break, but how many changes should Mikel Arteta make to the side that started the 3-0 win over Brentford?

Arsenal will kick off a busy October fixture schedule with a huge North London Derby against Tottenham Hotspur a week on Saturday.

Following that, the Gunners will be in action eight times in 24 days across the Premier League and Europa League with games against Liverpool, Leeds United, Southampton and Nottingham Forest on the horizon as well as pair of double-headers with Bodo/Glimt and PSV Eindhoven.

Then with a further four games to be played in three different competitions in November before the season pauses for the winter World Cup, it goes without saying that Mikel Arteta must make full use of his first-team squad – and perhaps draft in one or two academy players – to come through this period with his side in a good position at home and abroad.

Squad rotation will be key and it feels like a long time since the Arsenal manager was able to name an unchanged starting XI for successive games. In fact, you have to go back to the 3-0 win over Bournemouth in game week three for the last time this occurred as injuries have since taken their toll.

But having welcomed back Thomas Partey into the fold against Brentford after four games on the sidelines, Arteta was at least able to name as many as eight players who have established themselves as part of the north London outfit’s best line-up in the Premier League so far this season.

And there could be even more good news on the injury front going into the North London Derby with five senior players hopeful of being available for selection.

Whilst Arteta won’t know the condition of his players until after the international break fixtures have been concluded, in a dream scenario where there are no fresh injury setbacks over the next fortnight, football.london takes a look at the changes the Spaniard could make to either his starting XI or 20-man matchday squad when Arsenal face Spurs.

Odegaard and Zinchenko return

Perhaps, it’s almost a guarantee that if captain Martin Odegaard and Oleksandr Zinchenko are passed fit they will return to the matchday squad at the very least against Spurs. With that said, it’s more than likely they would both be handed immediate recalls to the starting line-up.

The latter was ruled out of the Brentford game by the Ukraine national team despite Arteta’s refusal to be drawn on the speculation at the time, whilst Odegaard was somewhat of a surprise absentee especially as he was spotted in Friday’s penultimate training session at London Colney.

“They are both injured and not available for the game,” Arteta told Sky Sports on Sunday when explaining the pair’s absence from the matchday squad.” I don’t know we have the international break so we will have a break on that. They are two different things but we don’t know yet.”

In any scenario where Odegaard and Zinchenko are given the all-clear to return for Arsenal against Tottenham, all signs will point toward Ethan Nwaneri and Lino Sousa being the ones to drop out of the matchday squad altogether as Arteta opts for experience over youth.

Gabriel Jesus decision

Gabriel Jesus scored in Arsenal’s 3-0 victory over Brentford and was superb throughout. However, the one downside of his performance in west London was the booking he received in the second half despite feeling harshly punished as it was his first foul of the game.

Perhaps, worryingly the Brazilian has now accumulated four yellow cards in seven Premier League appearances for the Gunners and this means he is walking the disciplinary tight-rope with regards to being handed a one-game suspension before the cut-off point in game week 19.

If the 25-year-old is a booked against Spurs, he will miss the visit of Liverpool to the Emirates Stadium eight days later thus leaving Arteta with a team selection dilemma. In truth, whichever decision the Spaniard takes – whether to take him out of the firing line or keep the faith – is a risky one and the hope is that it’s not a costly one.

Reiss Nelson inclusion

Amid all the guesswork from Arsenal’s final training session as supporters tried to decipher which players would and wouldn’t be available to face Brentford, there was a welcome sighting of Reiss Nelson who has been sidelined with a muscular problem for well over a month.

A lack of fitness and match sharpness meant Sunday’s game came too soon for the winger to make his return, but if he can get two full weeks of training under his belt then he could be in contention to be named in the matchday squad for the first time since the opening day win over Crystal Palace.

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