Arsenal welcome Brighton to the Emirates on Sunday afternoon knowing only a win will do if they want to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
The Gunners are currently two points behind fourth placed Chelsea but could be sixth at kick-off if the Blues and Manchester United win their earlier games against Watford and Huddersfield respectively.
In his pre-match press conference Unai Emery said, as quoted by Sky Sports, that “top four is priority, not the Europa League” so winning here is clearly of upmost importance. With those comments in mind, the 47-year-old should put out his strongest team against the Brighton, despite their second leg clash with Valencia being on the horizon.
Here’s how Arsenal could line up against the Seagulls.
Goalkeeper and Defenders
Bernd Leno (GK) – Emery often rotates his goalkeepers in different competitions and that was the case on Thursday when Petr Cech started against Valencia. While Leno will start, Emery has confirmed Cech will “have his moment” in what will be his last game at the Emirates – possibly a substitute appearance once the game is won.
Carl Jenkinson (RB) – With Ashley Maitland-Niles suspended, Jenkinson could have the chance to redeem himself after a horror show in the 3-2 home loss against Crystal Palace last month. Jenkinson was hooked at half-time in that game and has not featured since but should get the nod ahead of Stephan Lichtsteiner.
Shkodran Mustafi (CB) – The much-maligned 2014 World Cup winner was defended by his manager after his mistake gifted Palace the lead in the aforementioned game and will want to repay Emery’s faith with an assured performance on Sunday.
Laurent Koscielny (CB) – Despite missing the last 11 minutes against Valencia with ‘fatigue’, the Arsenal captain should start this game. At 33, he is still the best defender at the club and his presence is missed when he is not in the team.
Sead Kolasinac (LB) – With five assists this season, Kolasinac has enjoyed a good season and has been one of the team’s most consistent performers during 2018/19.
Lucas Torreira (CM) – The Uruguay international has become a firm fan favourite in his debut season at the club, putting in some tireless displays.
Granit Xhaka (CM) – He didn’t wear the captain’s armband in the 3-0 loss at Leicester City last week with much distinction and will want to make amends in front of his own fans. He can be frustrating at times but his wand of a left foot can create magic on other occasions.
Matteo Guendouzi (CM) – The elegant 20-year-old has featured 31 times in his first season in the Premier League and has started three of the last six games.
Mesut Ozil (CAM) – After netting in his last home league game, Ozil will want to continue his good run of form. He may have his critics but his quality cannot be denied, the 30-year-old still has a lot to offer his team.
Alexandre Lacazette (ST) – Recently voted player of the year by his fans, Lacazette has had a great campaign – scoring 13 and providing eight goals for his colleagues.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (ST) – This season’s top scorer has netted 29 league goals in 47 games for the club and has formed a devastating partnership with Lacazette. With those two on song, Arsenal always have a chance of winning any game.