The big question hanging over Arsenal going into this afternoon’s game at Manchester is over Sead Kolasinac, who limped off against Swansea last weekend with a hip problem.
The Bosnian defender has not trained this week and missed yesterday’s final session at London Colney before the squad made the journey north.
It’s not clear whether Kolasinac travelled but it is highly unlikely that he will feature so Arsene Wenger must come up with a way of replacing the powerhouse, who has become such a key figure at left wing-back.
The obvious choice is Nacho Monreal, but that will mean moving the Spaniard out of the back three where he has performed so well in recent weeks.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles is another option, given he has played at left wing-back in both the Europa League and Carabao Cup this season, while Alex Iwobi could also be an option for Wenger.
The Arsenal boss could also revert back to a flat back four with Monreal at left-back, but that is the least likely option given he has not played with a back four since the humiliating defeat at Crystal Palace last season.
Calum Chambers returned to full training on Friday but is not expected to be included in the squad so Wenger has some major decisions to make against the Premier League’s most potent attack.
My preference would be to move Monreal out to cover for Kolasinac’s absence, just because I fear what would happen to either Maitland-Niles or Iwobi against that City attack.
Then I would go with a back three of Mathieu Debuchy, Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker, with the two Frenchman key to covering for the German’s lack of pass and mobility.
Hector Bellerin would complete the defence, with Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey continuing in central midfield – but they will have to focus on protecting the defence, with Ramsey especially have to curb his attacking instincts.
In the attacking positions I would go with the big three of Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Alexandre Lacazette, although there would be a temptation to play Iwobi over Ozil just to add an extra bit of security.
There’s no doubt Arsenal looked a better defensive unit at Stamford Bridge without Ozil earlier in the season but at the Etihad I feel Arsenal will need his artistry just to give City something to think about when they don’t have the ball.
Arsenal: Cech, Debuchy, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Bellerin, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Ozil, Lacazette, Sanchez.