Date: 22nd September 2021 at 1:15pm
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Arsenal appear to be slowly turning their season round after a disastrous start, with Mikel Arteta’s side now having won each of their last two games without conceding a goal. 

The two victories provide stark contrast from the Gunners’ opening three games, during which they lost 2-0 to both Brentford and Chelsea and were humiliated 5-0 by Manchester City.

Now, Arteta’s attention turns to the Carabao Cup, as Arsenal face AFC Wimbledon in the third round at The Emirates on Wednesday evening.

As well as the game against the Dons, the Gunners boss will also be looking ahead to the visit of arch rivals Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday afternoon.

Below, we predict the XI that Arteta will choose for the game against the League One side.

Goalkeeper

Aaron Ramsdale has been impressive in the past two matches and is yet to concede a goal for the club after another shut-out against West Bromwich Albion in the previous round. The Englishman will likely be rested, however, with Bernd Leno being given a first start since conceding five to Manchester City last month.

Defence

The game against League One opposition will give Arteta the chance to rest his regular backline, meaning that Calum Chmbers could be given the nod at right-back. The Englishman appears to have fallen behind both Cedric Soares and Takehiro Tomiyasu in the pecking order and will be grateful for the opportunity to get some minutes.

At the heart of defence, first choice pairing Gabriel and Ben White will be rested meaning that Rob Holding and Pablo Mari could be given opportunities to start and impress. The latter endured a torrid time against Romelu Lukaku during the defeat to Chelsea and will be desperate for a better indivudal performance. The entirety of the back line will be expectant of keeping a clean sheet, and the experienced duo will give Arsenal a good chance of doing exactly that.

Holding’s minutes have been limited so far this season

At left-back, new signing Nuno Tavares will expect to start. The youngster, who joined from Benfica over the summer, would always have been likely to start but now looks certain after Kieran Tierney picked up a knock.

Midfield 

In the middle of the park, Arteta will likely opt to give unhappy midfielder Ainsley Maitland-Niles a chance to impress in his favoured position. The Englishman was open about his desire to leave the club over the summer but was convinced to stay after talks with Arteta and has played more regularly since.

Maitland-Niles will be hopeful of another start as he continues to revive his Arsenal career

Alongside him, Albert Sambi Lokonga could be handed another start. Granit Xhaka’s suspension carries over to this competition, and with Mohamed Elneny and Thomas Partey both sidelined, Lokonga looks certain to start.

In the advanced midfield role, Emile Smith-Rowe will be hopeful of starting and impressing after finding his playing time slightly reduced in recent weeks. Martin Odegaard, who has impressed since returning to the club on a permanent basis, will be rested.

Forwards

On the left of the front three, Gabriel Martinelli will expect to be given the chance to get on the scoresheet for the first time this season. The Brazilian youngster has not featured in any of the club’s last three matches.

Martinelli is yet to score a goal this season

On the right, Folarin Balogun is likely to start for the second time this season and the first time since the opening day defeat to Brentford. The youngster has been prolific for the club at youth level and has scored twice for the senior side, and Wimbledon could provide the perfect opportunity for the 20-year-old to score his first goal of the season.

Through the centre, Alexander Lacazette could be given the chance to gain some valuable minutes having struggled for first team chances so far this term. The Frenchman has played lass than an hour of football so far this season, and is yet to start a game.

With a favourable tie allowing Arteta to rest some key players ahead of the visit of Spurs on Sunday, the Spaniard will be confident of a result yet aware of the threat posed by the underdog in domestic cup competition.

For a number of fringe players and youngsters, however, the tie represents a good opportunity to impress and perhaps stake a claim for more regular league football.

 
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