Monday, June 24, 2024

Arteta confirms Saliba will miss City clash, doubts over Xhaka

Mikel Arteta has confirmed that William Saliba will not be available for tomorrow’s match against Manchester City.

Reports on Monday suggested the defender’s back problem was lumbar muscle related although talk of a disc problem, which could in turn lead to complications with the sciatic nerve, has been played down.

Either way, it’s clear that Saliba is struggling and that he won’t make the trip to Manchester or be involved next Tuesday when Chelsea visit the Emirates.

“There’s not been any real improvement, unfortunately for him,” Arteta told his press conference on Tuesday morning.

“We are still waiting, we are still hopeful but obviously, it’s another week that has gone by and he hasn’t been able to train with the team.

“At the moment we don’t have him, we are preparing for this game without him and next game, obviously, is probably going to be too close as well. We have to go week by week at the moment. ”

Pressed on the specifics of the injury, Arteta added, “I’ll leave that to the doctors to explain.”

Aside from long-term absentees, Mo Elneny and Takehiro Tomiyasu, the only other injury concern is Granit Xhaka. The Switzerland international was unwell last week and missed Friday’s 3-3 draw with Southampton.

Arteta claimed his midfielder is still a doubt although it may well be an attempt at pre-game mind games.

“Granit has been out. Hopefully, he will be able to train today but he’s still a doubt. The rest [of the squad is] ok.”

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I think at this point a change in formation could be on the cards to sure up the back.

I’d go with 3-4-3 with positional rotations:


White, Gabriel, Tierney (back 3)

Saka, Partey, Xhaka, Zinchenko

Odegaard, Jesus, Martinelli

Nainsley Aitland Miles

I don’t see a change of formation. If Saka is restricted to wing-back, that limits the attacking freedom of our most dangerous asset.

Formation won’t change, but personnel could. I like the starting 11 you propose – essentially Tierney coming in for Holding – but I would shift Zinchenko to right-back. Grealish cuts inside anyway.

So a back 4 of Zinchenko White Gabriel Tierney.

White’s level of pass surpasses Saliba anyway, so TP won’t have to drop back to collect the ball.


If you want to counter Grealish cutting in KT could come in at RB and leave Zinchenko where he likes to be. We are really missing Tomi at the moment.

Eric Blair

Zinchenko lacks the physical attributes to play as a wingback.

Sounds as if Xhaka will at least be in the matchday squad. But if he doesn’t start, then I’d go for Trossard.

If seen others suggest Jorginho start instead to play it safe, but I really think we should take the game to City and try to shock the system from the first minute.

Eric Blair

Disagree, keep it tight and hope for a late goal ala Anfield ’89.



We need goals and loads of them.

Let’s play to our strengths and smash these absolute cunts from the off.

If we retreat into our shells, they will destroy us.

The best form of defence here is to attack. And some.

Nainsley Aitland Miles

We need to rattle them from the start like we did on NYD last year.

Eric Blair

Given our respective form and the injuries we have to key players, good luck going to their place and ‘rattle them’.


I’d prefer Jorginho to Trossard, our problems lately have clearly been at the back and also with ball progression. He’s best place to help us with that.


Do you mean Jorginho in Xhakas 8 role, or play Jorginho as 6 instead of Partey and put Partey in Xhakas role? If you want to play Jorginho in that more mobile 8 role that is going to go very badly.


You discussed on one of the Arsecasts recently 3 hypothetical scenarios.
1. All players remaining fit for the rest of the season.
2. Wins against Liverpool and City.
3. Early goal in every game.

In my head I settled for 1 (not with hindsight).

People claim that Arsenal have been ‘lucky’ this season in some regards.
I would argue that it has infact been City who are lucky.
It seems they never have to face our strongest XI.
Which I’ve been longing to see.

Bleeding Gums Murphy

Saliba has been massive loss. 74% win rate with him in team. 40% win rate without him. Says it all really. I would play white in with Gabriel and let tierney play right back. He’s played there a few times for Scotland. City will target holding big time and Gabriel has looked vulnerable playing alongside him.

Tierney is too left-footed to play right-back. Zinchenko RB and Tierney LB would surely be more prudent.


Rather than pointing fingers at Holding, I think the relationships in the centre of the pitch are crucial, as you suggest. Holding and Gabriel have never, in my memory, looked like a great pairing. I remember Mari being paired with Holding years ago, even though Gabriel was clearly the better player of the two, for this reason. They aren’t terrible, but as a pair, they are simply not good enough to face city. White complements Gabriel much better, and needs to start tomorrow.


Xhaka will be an awful miss.

That being the case though, I would move Zinchenko to partner Partey and play KT at LB.

I can’t see Vieira having the physicality or the stomach for this cauldron – at least Zinky has the vast experience of the Etihad under his belt.


White Holding Gabriel KT

Partey Zinchenko

Saka Odegaard Martinelli



89 again

The etihad isn’t a cauldron, its a salad bowl

The OddFather

I’d keep the formation but change the personnel:

Tierney White Gabriel Zinchenko
Partey Trossard (If no Xhaka)
Saka Odegaard Martinelli

Biggest issue with this system is it takes Ben White out as an attacking threat – which he’s been doing quite well in recently. One thing is for sure – whoever does start needs to give it their absolute all.


White Gabriel
Saka Partey Jorginho/Xhaka Tierney
Trossard Jesus Martinelli

Saka can still get forward and he was certainly always going to have to cover back anyway. Jorghinho brings cool experience of big matches.We are going to be off the ball more than usual , hence leave Zin on the bench.


I might go for:
Ramsdale – Turner- Hein
White -Holding – Gabriel- – Zinchenko – Tierney
Xhaka -Jorginho – Odegard
Bring on Saka and Martinelli at 80 mins and win 1-0


Just do our thing nad get the 3 points


Xhaka will play, it’s all mind games hehe


I hope you’re right.

It’s going to be a fucking cauldron and a night for our experienced guys to shine.

We’re going to need as many ‘old warriors’ out there as possible. Let’s hope Xhaka is fit.

If not, move Zinchenko alongside Partey, bench Vieira and play KT at LB.

The rest – as you were.


Aleksander Włodarz

No Xaka 🤔?


We just need to go ate them, hard. Let Saka, Martinelli and Jesus/Trossard attack them like crazy. If we sit back and try to soak up pressure we are going to get thumped. Taking pressure of our backline with Saliba means scoring goals!

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