What Arsenal can do to cope vs Leeds without Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny

Arsenal have been dealt a double midfield blow ahead of Sunday's Premier League clash with Leeds after both Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny were ruled out.

Partey and Elneny were Mikel Arteta's first-choice pairing in the engine room for the Gunners' last two games against Aston Villa and Manchester United.

Deadline day signing Partey has looked good since joining the Gunners and excelled as they beat United at Old Trafford to end their hoodoo on the road against 'Big Six' rivals.

And Elneny has arguably been in the best form of his Arsenal career this season, having started to nail down a regular starting place at the expense of Granit Xhaka.

But Arteta must do without both at Elland Road, with Partey having gone off with a thigh strain during the Villa defeat last time out, while Elneny has been sidelined after testing positive for coronavius.

So will Arteta pick in their places against Leeds? The obvious choice to anchor the midfield would be Granit Xhaka, who has started five of Arsenal's Premier League games so far but was an unused substitute for the last two.

Xhaka has found his place in the Arsenal team under threat because of Eleny's recent form, so the Swiss midfielder will no doubt relish the chance to show Arteta he can still rely on him to protect the defence.

Alongside Xhaka, the manager is likely to play Dani Ceballos, who replaced Partey for the second half against Villa.

Ceballos began this season as a regular starter after impressing during the latter part of the last campaign, but he is in danger of losing out due to Partey's arrival, having sat out the victory at Old Trafford on the bench.

The Spanish midfielder was also involved in a bust-up with David Luiz in training just over a week ago, although both players having since apologised to team-mates and trained this week having initially been sent home by Arteta.

As with Xhaka, Ceballos will be eager to remind his manager of what he brings to the team if he gets the nod on Sunday.

But there are other options. Bukayo Saka has played in the centre of midfield in several games this season, and impressed for England during the international break, albeit in his more usual position of left wing-back.

  • Top 10 players whose value increased in 2020 – including Man Utd and Arsenal stars

However, the 19-year-old played all 270 minutes for the Three Lions during their three games, and Arteta may decide he is ready for a rest.

Joe Willock is yet to make a Premier League appearance this season, but the midfielder has played in both the Europa League and EFL Cup.

The 21-year-old was compared to Aaron Ramsey by former Gunners striker Kevin Campbell after two goals and two assists in Arsenal's opening Europa League games, and he could push Ceballos for a place in the starting line-up.

Then there is Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who played in central midfield in the win over Sheffield United last month, as well in the EFl Cup victory over Liverpool.

Another midfielder may sense an opportunity is Emile Smith-Rowe. The highly-rated 20-year-old has been restricted to appearances for the under-23s so far this season, but could edge closer to first-team action given the current selection issues.

Source: Read Full Article