Arsenal face League One outfit Portsmouth at Fratton Park in the fifth round of the 2019-20 FA Cup this evening.
Having been dumped out of the Europa League and being seven points outside of the Champions League places, Mikel Arteta should make the FA Cup a priority between now and the end of the season. We had the weekend off and aren’t in action again until Saturday so there’s no reason why we can’t field a very strong side to ensure no slip ups on the south coast.
The bookmakers have us as 1/2 favourites despite Thursday’s slip up at home to Olympiacos. This means we’re clear favourites to progress over 90 minutes rather than taking Portsmouth to a replay at the Emirates Stadium. You can read more about betting here for further information.
Here’s the team I think we should see tonight:
Goalkeeper: Bernd Leno
The German started over Emi Martinez in the Europa League knockout ties so I wouldn’t be surprised if Bernd Leno keeps his place this evening either. He’s been in fairly good form for us to start the year too.
Defence: Hector Bellerin, Sokratis, Rob Holding, Bukayo Saka
Mikel Arteta doesn’t have too many options at centre-back given how poor we’ve performed here this season. Rob Holding is arguably the best of a bad bunch but even then he’s struggled for consistency since his latest injury. Shkodran Mustafi picked up an injury on Thursday and David Luiz was part of the defence that shipped two against Olympiacos. Therefore, I can see Sokratis starting this one. Hector Bellerin is the best we have at right-back whilst Bukayo Saka is all we have at left-back due to injuries. Saka has been in fine form and I am looking forward to see him against lower league opposition.
Midfield: Lucas Torreira, Matteo Guendouzi, Dani Ceballos
Lucas Torreira should be recalled to the starting lineup as the holding man of a central midfield three on Monday night. Matteo Guendouzi is in line for a recall too as he covers a lot of ground when he plays in a midfield three. I wouldn’t expect Mesut Ozil to play in this game so it should be another chance for Dani Ceballos to play in the point of our central midfield, feeding the front three. Don’t be surprised to see Joe Willock introduced from the bench in the second half.
Attack: Nicolas Pepe, Alexandre Lacazette, Gabriel Martinelli
I can see Mikel using this game to try build the confidence of both Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe. Whilst we shouldn’t need Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to win this tie our star man needs to be among the substitutes just in case. Ideally, he’d be saved for the weekend and start as the striker on Saturday but I can’t be sure that will be the case. Gabriel Martinelli is learning his trade out on the left wing and this is another prime opportunity to give the Brazilian teenager a start.
Here’s how I see Arsenal lining up: