Arsenal travel to Brighton on New Year’s Eve, five days after they secured a comeback win over West Ham, though boss Mikel Arteta has a decision to make over who starts at left-back
Goals from Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Eddie Nketiah ensured the Gunners took home all three points following Said Benrahma’s early penalty. The win ensures they remain five points clear of Manchester City at the top of the Premier League.
Their next test will come on New Year’s Eve when they travel to the AMEX Stadium to face Brighton. With Oleksandr Zinchecko steadily returning to fitness, boss Mikel Arteta is facing a decision about who he will select to play at left-back.
Zinchenko was on the bench for Monday’s game and Kieran Tierney started on the left-hand side of defence. The Scot had a solid outing, making seven recoveries and winning three of his six defensive duels.
Despite his performance against the Hammers, though, Arteta could bring Zinchenko back in at left-back. The rest of the team could also be unchanged as Arteta seeks to keep up his side’s momentum.
That will see Aaron Ramsdale keep his place in goal, having kept seven clean sheets in 15 games in the top flight this term. Though Takehiro Tomiyasu is available for selection, Ben White should start at right-back.
The Englishman has impressed since being shifted from centre-back to right-back at the start of the season. Inside White and Zinchenko should be Arsenal’s first-choice centre-back pairing of William Saliba and Gabriel.
Martin Odegaard is all but certain to captain the team from central midfield, where he is likely to be joined by Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka. One of the main concerns heading into the Premier League’s return was how well Arsenal would cope without Gabriel Jesus.
Nketiah put those concerns to bed in the win over West Ham and the Englishman should again lead the line. On the right, Saka is a shoo-in, while Martinelli should take up his usual place on the left wing.
Arsenal will remain top of the league whatever the result at the AMEX on Saturday, but Arteta cautioned his players to keep their feet on the ground as he expects a difficult test against the Seagulls.
“Everything is good so far apart from the players that we had out. Everybody has been training well,” he said, adding: “They (Brighton) are playing at a level that dominates almost every phase of play that is relevant to dominate a football match.
“A team that has a lot confidence and plays with a lot of personalities. They’re someone who I’ve followed for a period now. My feeling is about tomorrow and performing at the level we need to win against a really good side. That’s the focus.