Martinelli to start as Pepe comes in: How Arsenal could line up without Saka or Willian – OhMyArsenal
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Martinelli to start as Pepe comes in: How Arsenal could line up without Saka or Willian



The Gunners could be without both wingers for their Premier League clash against WestHam at the London Stadium on Sunday

Speaking ahead of Sunday’s match Arteta admitted the England international faced a race against time in order to be fit for the game.

“Regarding Saka, in the next two days we will know if he is available to play against West Ham and after that we’ll make a decision on what to do,” he said.

To make matters worse Arsenal will also likely be without another winger in Willian.

The Brazilian missed Thursday night’s game against the Greek champions with a tight calf and faces his own struggle to be available for the game against the Hammers.

With this in mind there are several different ways Arteta could look to make up of the pair’s absence in the forward positions.

Here we take a look at how they could line up.

Odegaard returns as Pepe is back in

In recent weeks Martin Odegaard has started to make something of a name for himself in the Arsenal first team with vital goals against Olympiacos and Tottenham.

The Real Madrid loanee has defied expectations to form a brilliant partnership with Emile Smith Rowe playing on the left, and it is likely that he will come back in for the trip to the London Stadium.

To the right of him it seems as though Nicolas Pepe is the most likely candidate to replace Bukayo Saka.

The Ivorian put in a man of the match display in the second leg match against Olympiacos and would surely have scored an equaliser on the night had Smith Rowe not got in the way of his goal bound strike.

He is starting to find some consistency to his performances finally and deserves to be rewarded with a start against West Ham.

Martinelli at number nine?

Another option Mikel Arteta has available to him is to play Gabriel Martinelli at centre-forward.

The Brazilian has hardly featured since the turn of the year but impressed with a brief cameo on Thursday that proved he is capable of playing the ‘number nine’ role for Arsenal.

Pierre-Emerck Aubameyang meanwhile had a torrid night against Olympiacos missing a hatful of good chances.

It seems as though the Gabon striker was trying too hard to make amends for the disciplinary issue that kept him out of the North London Derby victory.

With Aubameyang’s mindset potentially not right, surely Sunday would be the perfect time for Arteta to play Martinelli in the position where he sees the Brazilian’s future.

It does seem unlikely though that Arteta will drop his captain for such a big game. Doing so would likely just create more of a fuss out of nothing as the Arsenal boss seeks to move on from the controversial North London Derby decision.

But with Aubameyang struggling to find his shooting boots at the minute there could be an argument that shifting him to the left would be the best call.

Alexandre Lacazette could then come in at centre forward to reprise the role he played to good effect against Tottenham where he scored the match winner.

The unlucky player to miss out in this scenario would be Emile Smith Rowe, who despite being one of the Gunners’ best performers in recent weeks probably wouldn’t get in over Martin Odegaard at number 10 right now.


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