Arsenal manager Unai Emery has hinted that Nicolas Pepe may be given his first start for the club against Liverpool this evening. The Ivorian has made two substitute appearances so far after joining from Lille this summer.
The winger missed pre-season and has been building up his fitness since his arrival at the Emirates. At his pre-match press conference yesterday, Emery suggested he could have a bigger part to play at Anfield:
“Now he is three weeks into working here with us. He didn’t do the pre-season here but he’s progressively feeling better. For example, in the first match, he played 15 minutes in Newcastle, then he played 45 minutes against Burnley.”
“I think his individual performances are progressively getting better. For Saturday, he is maybe ready to have more minutes.”
Such talk will certainly excite Gunners fans who have been keenly anticipating the front three of Pepe, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette.
If Emery does opt for the trio, he will need protection in midfield, and it could lead to Lucas Torreira returning to the starting line up for the first time this season if captain Granit Xhaka isn’t fit.
With the Swiss international expected to be touch and go for the match, Arsenal may opt to partner Torreira alongside Matteo Guendouzi and Dani Ceballos in a midfield three.
Emery could surprise a few by going to a back three, but it’s more likely that he’ll stick with the same defence that played against Burnley last weekend.
Arsenal’s Predicted XI To Face Liverpool:
Leno, Maitland-Niles, Luiz, Sokratis, Monreal, Ceballos, Guendouzi, Torreira, Pepe, Lacazette, Aubameyang