Predicted Arsenal lineup against Liverpool: Saliba set for debut

William Saliba is set to make his competitive debut for Arsenal while Bernd Leno will return when they face Liverpool for the FA Community Shield.

Arsenal will be hoping to lift the FA Community Shield for the 16th time when they lock horns with Liverpool at Wembley on Saturday evening. The Gunners have made it to this tie on the basis of being the FA Cup holders, with Liverpool participating as the Premier League champions.

Ahead of the match, Mikel Arteta has a number of injury concerns to contend with, seeing as the likes of Calum Chambers, Pablo Mari, Shkodran Mustafi and Gabriel Martinelli are still out on the sidelines. Apart from the quartet, the Arsenal boss no longer has Dani Ceballos to call upon after the Spaniard return to Real Madrid following the end of his loan spell.

With limited options in midfield, Arteta is likely to line his side up in a 3-4-3 formation. The big news is that Bernd Leno has recovered from a knee injury and is available to take on Liverpool. The German custodian started in the friendly against MK Dons as well and is expected to make his return in the Arsenal goal.

Leno will be protected by a back-three that should feature Kieran Tierney. As for the other two spots, Rob Holding is expected to start ahead of David Luiz, having resumed training early. The third central defensive position will be occupied by William Saliba, who is primed to make his competitive debut for Arsenal against Liverpool on Saturday.

Arteta did speak about Saliba during his pre-match press conference, heaping praise on the French defender. The Arsenal manager said, “He’s been training really hard. He stayed here in London to do a better preparation and you can tell that he looks ready.”

“Obviously there are a lot of things that are new for him and he will need to adapt but certainly he has the right qualities for this football club and as well the right attitude to keep improving and showing the player he can be for our future.”

In midfield, Mohamed Elneny seems to be well placed to start in the double pivot alongside Granit Xhaka after doing so in the MK Dons friendly, especially with Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira facing uncertain futures at Arsenal. Joe Willock is the other option at Arteta’s disposal.

Elneny and Xhaka will likely be flanked by Cedric Soares and Ainsley Maitland-Niles. Maitland-Niles, like Torreira and Guendouzi, has been linked with a move away from Arsenal, but should start against Liverpool after coming in for praise from Arteta in the presser.

Finally, in attack, the trio who featured in the friendly this week, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Bukayo Saka and Eddie Nketiah, will start once again.

Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe will be the options on the bench for Arteta. Willian, too, will be a backup option and has to wait for his full Arsenal debut.

Arsenal Predicted XI: Leno, Saliba, Holding, Tierney, Cedric, Elneny, Xhaka, Maitland-Niles, Saka, Nketiah, Aubameyang.