Arsenal team news: Expected XI for Fulham clash as Mikel Arteta makes three changes
Arsenal: Arteta impressed by Smith Rowe's development
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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta is likely to stick with the majority of the starting XI that led the Gunners to the Europa League semi-final when they play Fulham today. Captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and loanee Martin Odegaard remain absent through illness and injury respectively. Express Sport picks the Arsenal XI we expect to line up at the Emirates against the Cottagers.
Goalkeeper – Leno
Arteta may be excused for giving Bernd Leno a rest, with the German playing every minute of the last 14 matches in all competitions.
Mat Ryan is waiting in the wings to make his second appearance following his loan from Brighton.
However, Leno has kept two clean sheets in a row and Arteta will be aiming to keep some consistency at the back.
Leno’s last clean sheet at the Emirates was at the end of January against Manchester United.
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Defence – Cedric, Holding, Gabriel, Xhaka
The defence sees a couple of changes from the impressive 4-0 win over Slavia Prague on Thursday.
Cedric Soares could come in at right-back to give Calum Chambers a breather.
Gabriel may replace Pablo Mari, with the duo rotating regularly in the left-sided centre-back position in recent weeks.
Granit Xhaka has impressed in an unfamiliar left-back role, whereas Rob Holding is the only fit option as the right centre-back.
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Midfield – Partey, Ceballos; Smith Rowe
With Xhaka still in defence, Arteta could stick to the same midfield he played in Prague.
Thomas Partey was quietly impressive on Thursday as he continues to settle into this Gunners side.
Dani Ceballos has put in two strong performances in his last two outings and should keep his spot.
Emile Smith Rowe only played just over an hour against Slavia so should be fine to start in the No 10 role again.
Attack – Pepe, Lacazette, Martinelli
Bukayo Saka needs to be protected by Arteta after picking up the odd niggly injury of late, and this looks to be a good game to give him a breather from the start.
Gabriel Martinelli should benefit and come into the side off the left.
Alexandre Lacazette has scored four goals in the last week as he attempts to earn himself a new contract.
Nicolas Pepe should start on the right after scoring his 10th goal of the season in midweek.
Arsenal’s expected XI vs Fulham in full: Leno; Cedric, Holding, Gabriel, Xhaka; Partey, Ceballos, Smith Rowe; Pepe, Lacazette, Martinelli.
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