Takehiro Tomiyasu on the bench, Marquinhos included – Arsenal predicted team vs Fulham

At this stage of the transfer window, Arsenal normally find themselves at panic stations to the extent that the football becomes a sideshow. This year, though, things are different.

Three wins from three means that the Gunners sit top of the Premier League with the only 100% record left in the competition, and the mood around the camp is sky high. Sources at the club have indicated things are the calmest they’ve been for a decade, and Fulham at home as the next match they’ve been handed what looks on paper to be the perfect chance to keep the positive atmosphere going.

This, though, is the start of the first or run of fixtures in this unusually congested season where games start to pile up quickly with Aston Villa and Manchester United to come in the subsequent eight days. While his past three team selections have been relatively easy, Saturday’s match presents a new dilemma for Mikel Arteta.

One position where you can almost guarantee there won’t be any rotation is in goal. Aaron Ramsdale had next to nothing to do on his return to Bournemouth and will be keen to one up his former teammate Bernd Leno yet again, even if the relationship between the pair is unusually positive for two such direct rivals.

Having heard a couple of thousand travelling fans singing his fantastic new chant incessantly on the south coast last week William Saliba will now likely be presented with 60,000 belting it out at the Emirates Stadium. After such a positive start, the Frenchman faces arguably his most difficult challenge yet in the physical behemoth that is Aleksandar Mitrovic.

“When he’s around the box as you can see last season, he scored 43 goals in the league and he already has three this season, that tells you the efficiency that he has in these areas,” Arteta said of the Serbian centre forward. “He’s one of the main threats of Fulham.”

Aerial duels are not necessarily a strong point of Saliba’s despite his imposing stature. He will have the formidable Gabriel Magalhaes alongside him to help cope with that. If Arteta wants to be extra careful then he might be tempted to throw Takehiro Tomiyasu in at right back over Ben White, but the England international’s impressive form means he will likely keep his spot.

Oleksandr Zinchenko meanwhile is undroppable at the minute, but it’s worth noting that for seemingly out of favour players like Kieran Tierney and Tomiyasu, the chance to prove themselves will surely come against Villa in midweek where it seems the most logical time for Arsenal to finally make some changes.

Following that policy, it’s unlikely to see too much alteration in midfield either, where Granit Xhaka continues to be a fantasy football player’s dream with his unprecedented contribution to the attack. Thomas Partey, meanwhile, will anchor the side and Martin Odegaard will be keen to replicate his impressive performance against Bournemouth that saw him notch two goals.

The Norwegian nearly had an assist too, but the blurriest of VAR pixels conspired to adjudge that Gabriel Jesus was sadly offside. The Brazilian will be desperate to get his goal this time around though, and having formed such an impressive partnership with Gabriel Martinelli on the left you would back him to do so.

That would finally leave a spot on the right wing which Bukayo Saka will take despite slightly hyperbolic criticism of his performances so far this season. If he does have another one of his slightly less influential days though, it’s fascinating to think that under the radar summer signing Marquinhos could be waiting in the wings to replace him. The Brazilian was not involved in the Under-21s’ Friday night clash with Brighton and with Nicolas Pepe now a Nice player after having completed his loan move, you would think that this is a hint that the 19-year-od could be involved on Saturday.