Arsenal news: Mikel Arteta's side are looking to right the wrongs of their opening day defeat in the Premier League against Brentford, but will have to do so without the suspended Gabriel Martinelli
Arsenal are looking to put more pressure on Man United in the top four race as they hope to build on their important Wolves win last week with a revenge victory against Brentford.
The Gunners opened the scoring against Bruno Lage's side in the first-half as Gabriel Magalhaes found the back of the net from close-range, with the visitors managing to hold on for all three points at Molineux.
Next up for Mikel Arteta's side is a home clash with Brentford on Saturday after their scheduled match against Chelsea at the weekend was postponed due to the Blues' FIFA Club World Cup involvement.
Their postponement against the European and world champions has allowed Ralf Rangnick's Man United side to rack up more Premier League games under their belts, with the Red Devils adding a four point buffer ahead of the north Londoners having played three more games than their top four rivals.
Draws against Burnley and Southampton - coupled with their win against 10 man Brighton in midweek - has opened up a chance for Arteta and co to claim a rare top four finish for a side that has been deprived of Champions League football in recent seasons.
If they are to take advantage starting with this weekend's assignment against an indifferent Bees outfit, they will have to do this without Gabriel Martinelli and the doubtful Takehiro Tomiyasu, who unlike the Brazilian, has a chance of making the cut after making a gradual return to the set up after his injury issues sustained against Leeds and Liverpool respectively.
In spite of this blow, the hunger the Gunners have to get one over on Thomas Frank's side should be high after what happened on the opening day of the 2021/22 campaign.
A shock 2-0 defeat for Arsenal at the Brentford Community Stadium on opening night shocked the Premier League, but fast forward to now and the north London outfit come into the reverse fixture as strong favourites, especially considering how the Bees' form has dipped since their impressive opening spell.
With all of this taken into account, we makes a look at three possible ways Arteta could choose to field his side for this London derby.
Nicolas Pepe comes in
One man who hasn't seen much action at all in recent weeks is winger Nicolas Pepe.
Part of this has been down to his involvement at the Africa Cup of Nations, and another part of the reason is his manager preferring other options. That includes Gabriel Martinelli, who has really carried the Gunners to success in recent weeks, with the exception of what he did at the Molineux, of course.
With the Brazilian now suspended, this potentially could allow the 26-year-old a shot at redeeming himself in Arteta's books, having only played in nine Premier League games only this season with those consisting of a mix of starts and substitute appearances.
if the 26-year-old's future isn't to take a turn for the better in north London then questions about his role at the club will certainly be there for all to see come the summer.
Option 1- Ramsdale; Cedric, White, Gabriel, Tierney; Xhaka, Partey; Saka, Odegaard, Pepe; Lacazette.
Takehiro Tomiyasu returns to the line-up
Japan international Tomiyasu has been struggling with a calf injury in recent times and missed last weeks Thursday's win over Wolves.
The versatile right-back first suffered the problem during the 4-1 win against Leeds United back in December but tried to play through the pain barrier during last month's 2-0 defeat to Liverpool in the second leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final.
Arteta confirmed that the Japanese international returned to training ahead of the trip to Wolverhampton.
"He’s there. He had a recurring injury in the same place, so we had to be careful with him, but he’s been training hard. Let’s see if he’s available for Thursday."
With the opposition being an out of form and indifferent Brentford side, Arteta may see this as the perfect time to reintegrate the defender back into the fold.
Option 2- Ramsdale; Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tierney; Xhaka, Partey; Saka, Odegaard, Pepe; Lacazette.
Smith Rowe over Pepe?
The Croydon born youngster has been in and out of the team in recent times but especially in December 2021, when he limped off in the 3-2 Man United defeat.
Since returning from injury, the 21-year-old has been in and out for various games, usually to either compliment or replace Martin Odegaard who started in the most recent Wolves win.
However, with Martinelli now out of the team, could Arteta shoehorn Arsenal's No.10 into a wide left position for the meantime if he felt like he was to be the better option over Pepe for this game?
Perhaps, Arteta may get creative instead and switch Bukayo Saka over to the left instead, and play the natural central attacking midfielder on the right for this contest.
These questions will be answered come 2pm on Saturday when the team news is released.
Option 3- Ramsdale; Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tierney; Xhaka, Partey; Saka, Odegaard, Smith Rowe; Lacazette.