Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta’s comments hint at starting XI plan after Man Utd friendly scare

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta’s comments hint at starting XI plan after Man Utd friendly scare

After Arsenal’s 2-0 loss to Manchester United in a pre-season friendly in New Jersey on Saturday, manager Mikel Arteta has given a clue about the starting XI he has in mind for the opening Premier League game next month.

The Gunners will kick off their season on Saturday, August 12, with a match against Nottingham Forest at the Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal faced a tough challenge against Manchester United, with Aaron Ramsdale and Gabriel making costly mistakes that led to two goals for the Red Devils. Bruno Fernandes scored the opener after Ramsdale failed to stop his shot, while Jadon Sancho capitalized on a poor clearance from Gabriel for the second goal.

After the match, Arsenal also suffered a defeat in a penalty shootout against Erik ten Hag’s team, following the 90 minutes of regular action.

Despite the disappointing result in the USA, Mikel Arteta remained positive about his team’s performance and expressed confidence in his midfield trio of Declan Rice, Martin Odegaard, and Kai Havertz. It seems these three players will play a key role in his squad throughout the upcoming season.

“When they play 55 times together, it will be better, it will flow better, they will understand each other better and we will be more dominant,” Arteta explained. “But things take time to glide, and we have to respect that. I saw a lot of positive things, things I really like much more than the game that we won [against the MLS All-Stars] although the result is very different.”

As Arsenal aim to make a strong start to the season, it is likely that the midfield trio of Declan Rice, Martin Odegaard, and Kai Havertz will feature in the starting XI against Nottingham Forest. Additionally, Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli could be positioned in the attack, given that they were part of the front three in the match against Manchester United.

However, there is a possibility that Gabriel Jesus might replace Eddie Nketiah in the starting line-up for the upcoming clash, as he made an appearance as a substitute during the weekend match. This lineup adjustment could provide Arsenal with a potent attacking force to take on Nottingham Forest.

While praising the performance of new signing Jurrien Timber against Manchester United, Mikel Arteta has provided a hint about his preferred back four for the upcoming matches. It seems Timber’s display has impressed the Arsenal manager, potentially earning him a spot in the starting backline. As the season progresses, this preferred defensive setup could become more apparent based on Timber’s contributions and performances.

“Really pleased with his performance and what we asked him to do,” the 41-year-old added. “He’s adapting really quickly to the team. You can see the confidence and the determination he plays with.”

Timber might begin the season as a right-back, playing alongside the impressive central defenders Gabriel and William Saliba, who both had an excellent performance last season.

Ramsdale has demonstrated his capability to be Arteta’s first-choice goalkeeper in the long run. Meanwhile, Oleksandr Zinchenko is aiming to take the left-back position from Takehiro Tomiyasu in the match against Steve Cooper’s team.

However, the Ukrainian player has not participated in pre-season games yet due to an ongoing calf injury.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta’s comments hint at starting XI plan after Man Utd friendly scare

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