Arsenal duo in doubt as Premier League resumes
The Premier League season 2020/2021 kicks off today with an incredibly interesting encounter between newly-promoted Brentford and Arsenal.
Brentford was promoted to the Premier League by defeating Swansea in their championship playoffs, automatically earning their top tier status.
Given its impressive record in the second division, Brentford could be out to cause an upset to the experienced Arsenal side.
Last season was a tumultuous one for the Mikel Arteta coached side, which finished in eighth place and will not be playing any European competitions for the first time since the 1995-96 season.
However, Arteta will be hoping the inclusion of Ben White from Brighton, Albert Lokonga from Anderlecht, and Nuno Tavares from Benfica will be of great benefit heading to the opener against Brentford.
On the other hand, this is Brentford first season in the English top-flight since the 1947-48 season, so it will no doubt be an emotional opener at home for its supporters on Friday.
Striker Ivan Toney thrashed opposing defenses all season long, breaking the Championship scoring record by bagging 32 goals, and will be the talisman heading to the Arsenal fixture.
Having the best defensive record in the Championship, Brentford will likely deploy their high-tempo football which plays a vertical style that condenses the midfield, allowing wingers and full backs to get space on the outside in their 4-3-3 formation.
Arsenal on the flip side struggled to create chances last season, their defense was resolute, though, conceding lesser goals which was the fifth-best mark in the Premier League.
Mikel Arteta has played out the 4-2-3-1 formation, which is the most common and successful setup in modern football.
The formation allows Arsenal to deploy three attacking midfielders going forward, which can overwhelm opposing defenses.
Ivorian Nicolas Pepe, Englishman Bukayo Saka, and Emile Smith-Rowe will likely be the attacking midfielders for Arsenal, with the attacking duo of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette both ruled out. Both strikers missing out due to illness
The exclusion of both strikers will be a major blow ahead of their Premier League season opener against Brentford.
However, with the 4-2-3-1 formation in play for Arteta Arsenal will be well-equipped to handle Brentford’s high-intensity, high-pressure style of play.
Aubamayeng and Lacazette’s omission could mean that the highly-rated Folarin Balogun is handed his Premier League debut.
The United States-born striker was prolific for the Under-23s last season, managing nine goals in 18 games in the Premier League 2. He was also handed some minutes in the Europa League, where he netted twice in five appearances handed to him by head coach Arteta.
The Gunners are looking to fire their way back into the European contention after a catastrophic 2020/21 campaign which saw the Arteta side miss out on continental qualification for the first time in 25 years.