Arsenal

Saliba starts, Fabio Vieira debut – How Arsenal should line-up vs Everton in pre-season fixture

Arsenal face Everton in a pre-season fixture as part of their 10-day tour of the US and manager Mikel Arteta can name two different line-ups for each half

Arsenal are back in action during the early hours on Sunday morning (UK time) as they face Everton in the first game of their US pre-season tour.

This will be the Gunners’ third outing of the summer, and they go into it on the back of beating Ipswich Town 5-1 in a behind-closed-doors training match at the club’s London Colney base before coming out on top in an eight-goal thriller against FC Nurnberg last Friday.

Since then, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has welcomed back the likes of Aaron Ramsdale, William Saliba, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Granit Xhaka, Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka to training after they were granted an extended holiday due to their involvement in international fixtures in June.

And they have all been included in the 33-man tour squad that also features players being linked with moves away this summer, such as Bernd Leno, Hector Belleirn, Nicolas Pepe, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Pablo Mari, Reiss Nelson and a rather surprising name in Lucas Torreira.

As it’s pre-season, there’s every chance Arteta will make use of his entire squad for Sunday’s clash with Everton as well as next week’s friendlies against Orlando City and Everton.

In fact, due to the size of the travelling squad, the Spaniard can quite easily name two different line-ups for each half against the Toffees – repeating the same trick from a fortnight ago where he made wholesale changes at half-time as his side made light work of Ipswich.

Interestingly Arteta mentioned after the win over Nurnberg that players are at different stages with regards to getting back to full fitness after such a long time off: “Yes, absolutely. Today it was a bit of a puzzle because some players could only play certain minutes,” he said.

“Kieran, for example, could only play 30 minutes, and we wanted to give him the first 30 to have a good warm-up after such a long time. Others only 45, others again 30. So they go by what we needed. There’s a lot of things to improve, but it’s true that when we get everybody back, we will be more competitive.”

With that in mind, the Gunners can use the next week to build players’ fitness, but considering the Everton game will be the first for those who were on international duty last month and perhaps Rob Holding in pre-season, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Arteta opts to give many players at least 45 minutes at the M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

First-half

Ramsdale can get a run-out in between the sticks, but who lines up in front of him will be interesting as most Arsenal fans are keen to see Saliba in action following his successful loan spell at Marseille last season. The Frenchman could be paired with Gabriel Magalhaes, whilst Kieran Tierney can hopefully get an extra 15 minutes under his belt after lasting a half hour last week.

Of the four summer signings so far, only Fabio Vieira is yet to feature, but that could change as he’s in line to make his debut – albeit non-competitively – in an exciting looking midfield alongside Martin Odegaard with Mohamed Elneny protecting the back four.

In attack, supporters could get a first glimpse of Saka combining with Gabriel Jesus as Gabriel Martinelli is restored to a more familiar role on the left, having operated as a left-wing back after being introduced as a second-half substitute against FC Nurnberg eight days ago.

Arsenal XI: Ramsdale; Cedric, Saliba, Gabriel, Tierney; Elneny, Odegaard, Vieira; Saka, Martinelli, Gabriel Jesus

Second half

The second-half team could then see Ben White returning to action after missing the Nurnberg clash, Holding’s first game since the 5-1 win over Everton on the final day of last season and Tomiyasu’s first appearance since limping out of the 2-0 defeat at the hands of Newcastle United on May 16.

Arteta is somewhat spoilt for choice in central midfield with Thomas Partey, Albert Sambi Lokonga, Xhaka and Torreira all pushing to get some minutes under their belt, whilst Emile Smith Rowe is an wildcard option, having played a little deeper in Germany last time out.

However, it’s likely that the Gunners’ no.10 will operate from the left-hand side of the attack alongside Nicolas Pepe and Eddie Nketiah, but Marquinhos, Folarin Balogun and Reiss Nelson should also be available to Arteta.

Arsenal XI: Turner; Tomiyasu, White, Holding, Tavares; Partey, Lokonga, Xhaka; Pepe, Smith Rowe, Nketiah.

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