Arsenal entertain Sunderland in Tuesday’s Carabao Cup quarter-final at the Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners have the chance to reach the last four of the competition for the first time since 2018. They should be favourites to pick up a victory over the League One outfit.
It is unclear how many players Mikel Arteta will have at his disposal. Albert Sambi Lokonga and Pablo Mari are out with Covid-19. Hopefully, there are no more cases within the squad.
Irrespective of this, wholesale changes are expected. Several regular starters could be rested or left on the bench.
Bernd Leno was recently sidelined with a groin injury, but returned to the matchday squad against Leeds. The German could make his first appearance since the fourth round win over Marcelo Bielsa’s side in October.
Takehiro Tomiyasu, Ben White and Gabriel Magalhaes have been undisputed starters in the league. Arteta should give them a much-needed break in midweek alongside Kieran Tierney, who has had fitness concerns in the past.
Cedric Soares replaced Tomiyasu after the hour mark on Saturday. He appears likely to start at right-back. Nuno Tavares is a straightforward replacement for Tierney for the left-back role as seen on several occasions this term.
At the heart of the defence, it could be a first start for Calum Chambers and Rob Holding together since August. Mari would have been in the mix to start, but the Spaniard won’t be available after testing positive for Covid.
In midfield, Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey wil most likely be rested. The latter appears to be getting back to his best after a disappointing start to the campaign, but Arteta may look to hand a breather to both players.
With Lokonga sidelined, Arteta may not have any selection headache. Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Mohamed Elneny appear the outright choices to start, provided they are fit and available for selection.
Further forward, Emile Smith Rowe will most certainly occupy the number 10 role. The England international has been in fine form since returning from injury, scoring off the bench in his last two games.
The club graduate looks set to replace Martin Odegaard. Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli could be rested as well with Nicolas Pepe and Eddie Nketiah getting the nod for the wide attacking positions.
Both players are currently out-of-favour in the Premier League. Pepe has played just seven minutes since the last international break, and may have a point to prove against the Black Cats.
With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang unavailable, Arteta may have no choice but to opt for Alexandre Lacazette up front. Folarin Balogun is an option, but he remains vastly experienced at first-team level.
Balogun could be handed minutes off the bench if the Gunners find themselves in a resounding winning position.