Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta will shuffle his pack when the Gunners take on Leeds United in an intriguing FA Cup third round clash at the Emirates Stadium on Monday night.
Arteta will no doubt take the opportunity to rest some key first team players following a hectic festive period in terms of the number of fixtures, and following two home games that stretched the fitness and physicality of his players.
Arsenal were out on their feet after the 2-1 reverse against Chelsea — succumbing to a devastating defeat after they led 1-0 — but raised their game three days later to manage to be able to chalk up a convincing 2-0 win over Manchester United.
Arteta, who has replaced axed Spanish coach Unai Emery following a period where ex-Gunners ace Freddie Ljungberg was at the helm, is asking his charges to work their socks off in games to try to help the north London giants turn around their season.
An example of this is the stat that Mesut Ozil, often criticised by fans and pundits alike for his perceived lack of graft, actually covered the most distance in an Arsenal shirt in the triumph over the Red Devils.
So, with Championship side Leeds coming to the Emirates, Arteta will field a team combined with a mixture of promising youngsters and a few senior players, too.
Definitely missing will be Calum Chambers, who ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament of his left knee in the loss at home to Frank Lampard’s Blues. He now faces up to nine months on the side lines recovering following an operation to try to rectify the issue.
Full-back Hector Bellerin has a tight hamstring and is being assessed ahead of game — with young Brazilian striker Gabriel Martinelli in a similar position thanks to a strain.
Arsenal will look to get in to the fourth round by way of a win over the Elland Road side, but Arteta will also have one eye on the Premier League game at Crystal Palace on Saturday. The former Manchester City coach, so important to the Etihad Stadium outfit as No.2 to Pep Guardiola, has prioritised the top flight standing for the club and hasn’t ruled out pushing for a top four spot.
To do that he needs to get a tune out of his players just as he has in the draw at AFC Bournemouth and the more encouraging displays against both Chelsea and Manchester United.
Following the trip to face the Eagles, Arsenal then have a home game against Sheffield United and will look to gain revenge over the Blades following a 1-0 defeat at Bramall Lane earlier in the season.
First, though, Leeds must be taken on.