Eddie Nketiah could feature for Arsenal in Mikel Arteta’s starting XI when the Gunners face Manchester City on Wednesday as the 2019/20 Premier League season makes its return
Mikel Arteta has some tough decisions to make on Wednesday night when Arsenal return to action after three months away.
Manchester City host the Gunners at the Etihad behind closed doors as Premier League football resumes.
The 2019/20 season has been on hold since mid-March due to the coronavirus crisis, and Arsenal have looked shaky in their preparations for the restart.
A 3-2 defeat at home to Brentford in a friendly with the Championship side last week was far from ideal.
While confidence may not be sky high among supporters ahead of their showdown with the reigning Premier League champions, Arteta does have some top young talents at his disposal he could turn to.
The former City coach, who comes up against Pep Guardiola and returns to the Etihad for the first time since leaving to take the Arsenal job in December, will feel his team has enough to truly test their opponents.
Manchester City will play Arsenal behind closed doors on Wednesday (Image: Getty Images)
In attack, captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is expected to start amid the uncertainty surrounding is future in north London.
But the debate comes with who will join him going forward, with a trio of forwards staking a claim for a place in the side.
Alexandre Lacazette is the senior option for Arteta, but the No.9 may not suit Arsenal’s gameplan at the Etihad.
Arteta needs an XI that will work tirelessly if they are to take something away from Manchester.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette may not partner one another in attack at the Etihad
While the Gunners are able to use five substitutes, the starting XI will be key to how the match pans out.
Instead of Lacazette, Brazilian teenager and fan favourite Gabriel Martinelli has shown since joining last summer that he has a real eye for goal.
And his finish against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge before the season was suspended demonstrates he can perform in the big games.
But Eddie Nketiah, who spent the first half of the campaign on loan at Championship table-toppers Leeds United, has proven his worth to Arteta too.
Eddie Nketiah is pushing for another start
The 21-year-old was starting regularly for Arsenal before the season was suspended, playing 85 minutes, 90 minutes and 59 minutes in their last three Premier League games against Newcastle, Everton and West Ham respectively.
The forward scored against Everton during that spell and the Gunners won all three of their matches as they look to climb the table towards the Champions League spots.
In the FA Cup too, Nketiah scored in both the fourth and fifth rounds away to Bournemouth and Portsmouth.
He would be a gamble to play away to City given their strength, but few would be able to question the call given his form earlier this year.
If Nketiah has shown in training in recent weeks he can continue where he left off, Arteta may well pick him at the Etihad ahead of Lacazette and Martinelli.
Dani Ceballos has established himself as a key part of Mikel Arteta’s plans since breaking back into the side (Image: GETTY)
It is not just the manager’s frontline he needs to consider, though, as there are other important calls to make in midfield and defence.
First-choice full-backs Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney are both now fit, with the Covid-19 crisis having enabled them to regain their sharpness in time for the restart.
But young wing-back Bukayo Saka has impressed this season too and Arteta will want to find room in the team for the teen.
At centre-half, Rob Holding looked rusty against Brentford following his lengthy lay-off due to a knee ligament injury, so Shkodran Mustafi may squeeze his way into the side.
In midfield, Dani Ceballos is in a similar situation to Nketiah as another player who surprised many by becoming a player Arteta showed his trust towards before mid-March.
The creative Spanish loanee could be called upon to help offer Arsenal a threat on the counter by setting up attacks, while alongside him, Arteta has Granit Xhaka, Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira to choose between.
City is sort of a free hit for Arsenal as their game in hand before all teams face their final nine Premier League matches.
However, the knowledge that a win will put the ninth-placed Gunners level on points with Wolves in sixth will be a major motivation for the players.