Charles Watts, the Arsenal correspondent for Goal, has boldly predicted one change Mikel Arteta is guaranteed to make against Villarreal tomorrow.
The Gunners are 2-1 down after a disappointing performance in the first leg. Nicolas Pepe’s penalty keeps us alive in the tie, and it’s now time for Arteta to put out a team who can get the job done against a tricky Villarreal side.
Arsenal today released pictures of Alexandre Lacazette and Kieran Tierney back in training. (see here) If the latter is fit, he will surely start, but with respect to the Frenchman, Watts believes that he will have to settle for a place on the bench.
The Arsenal journalist has claimed that it is an ‘absolute certainty’ that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will start up front, which means that there will be no place for his French-speaking pal, unless Arteta surprises everyone and goes with two up top.
He said on his YouTube show: “Auba got 78 minutes against Newcastle so he’s going to play against Villarreal, I think that’s an absolute certainty he’ll play there.
“The whole false-nine experiment, that would have just been a one-off, now that Auba’s got 78 minutes under his belt and he’s scored which is a big boost, he’ll certainly lead the line against Villarreal, and then it’s all a case of who plays in that three behind him.”
The Insider’s View:
If Auba is fit, he has to start up front against Villarreal tomorrow.
Unai Emery’s men showed last week that they can be caught out with the long ball. Aubameyang is exactly the kind of player who thrives against systems like theirs, and he simply has to start up front.
However, if Emery comes to the Emirates trying to protect his narrow lead by parking the bus, Auba will not have much joy. Arteta will have to turn to Lacazette then, but that should only happen if we’re still losing at half-time tomorrow night.