Arsenal

Tomiyasu return, Fabio Vieira and Marquinhos named in squad – Arsenal changes vs Leicester

Mikel Arteta will have an Arsenal team selection dilemma on his hands if he has the luxury of a fully fit senior squad for the visit of Leicester City this weekend.

Injuries and fitness issues meant the Gunners manager was unable to give many minutes, if any, to the likes of Takehiro Tomiyasu, Kieran Tierney, Emile Smith Rowe and summer signing Fabio Vieira during pre-season and that played a big role in the side he chose to start against Crystal Palace.

Ben White continued at right-back to allow William Saliba to finally make his competitive Arsenal debut – three years after joining the club – whilst Oleksander Zinchenko got the nod at left-back and responded by claiming the first assist of the new Premier League season for Gabriel Martinelli en route to sealing a hard fought 2-0 win.

After making a perfect start to the new season and keeping a clean sheet for the first time in a competitive fixture since the 1-0 win over Aston Villa stretching all the way back to March, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if Arteta names an unchanged side against the Foxes.

However, events that transpired in the second half at Selhurst Park as well as less than 24 hours later during a U21s fixture and potential returns in training later this week could prompt a change of heart from the Arsenal manager as he may opt to freshen things at the Emirates Stadium.

As a result, football.london takes a look at five changes Arteta could make to either his starting XI or 20-man matchday squad as Arsenal face Leicester on Saturday.

Tierney for Zinchenko

One potential change could occur at left-back as Tierney replaced Zinchenko for the final 10 minutes against Palace and will be pushing hard for a start. The only problem is a lack of match practice will count against the Scotland international as that was only his second appearance for Arsenal since the end of March.

Of course, if the 25-year-old is handed a start, it doesn’t necessarily mean Zinchenko will drop out of the starting line-up altogether as his versatility means he could push into midfield and start ahead of Granit Xhaka as one of two ‘eights’ alongside Martin Odegaard in front of Thomas Partey.

Although with Arteta seemingly not willing to rush Tierney back too soon it would appear that the £30m summer arrival from Manchester City will make his official competitive home debut, and depending on how the game unfolds, it could be a case of the Gunners’ no.3 making another appearance from the bench.

Tomiyasu recall

As Tomiyasu got 45 minutes under his belt against Manchester United U21s on Saturday afternoon, he could be in contention to replace White at right-back provided he has come through his first outing since May unscathed and doesn’t suffer a setback in training ahead of the Leicester game.

But similar to Tierney, considering Arteta’s careful approach with the Japan international following those calf problems during the second half of last season, it seems more likely that the 23-year-old will be named amongst the substitutes if he is included in the squad at all as there’s no need to take any risks with him.

Smith Rowe and Vieira involved

If reports are to be believed, Smith Rowe is due back in training this week after a groin problem kept him out of the Crystal Palace victory. That would be a major boost as Arsenal’s attacking options will improve with last season’s 11-goal hero available for selection, but a lack of match sharpness means he would likely have to settle for a place on the bench if passed fit.

The same applies to Fabio Vieira whose only been spotted in a handful of training sessions since joining the club from Porto as recovering from a foot injury has somewhat hampered his settling-in period and the Leicester game will almost certainly come too soon for him to make his first Gunners start.

With the U21s back in action on Friday night, it will become a lot clearer with regards to what the plan could be for Marquinhos as if he features against West Ham United, that will almost certainly rule him out of making the matchday squad less than 24 hours later against Leicester.

But if he misses out against the Hammers, he could be rewarded for a goal and assist on his debut for the U21s by being named amongst the substitutes on Saturday which would push him closer to getting his first taste of Premier League football following his arrival from Sao Paulo.

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