Predicted Arsenal lineup against Portsmouth: Lacazette, Saka start in much changed side; Mari set for debut

Alexandre Lacazette and Bukayo Saka should start while Pablo Mari is in line to make his debut when Arsenal face Portsmouth in the FA Cup fifth round.

Arsenal will be hoping to seal safe passage through to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup when they lock horns with Portsmouth at Fratton Park on Monday night. And, Mikel Arteta does not have any fresh injury concerns to deal with ahead of his side’s latest fixtures.

The likes of Sead Kolasinac (shoulder), Cedric Soares (knee) and Kieran Tierney (shoulder) are still on the sidelines with their short-term injuries, while Calum Chambers has played his final game of the season for Arsenal due to a long-term knee injury.

Cedric and Tierney, though, are inching closer to being declared fully fit and should resume with the next seven days. During his pre-match press conference, Arteta confirmed that Tierney is close to returning but will be unavailable to face Portsmouth. There were comments about Pablo Mari, who could be set for his Arsenal debut, as well.

“He [Tierney] is much closer. He is evolving really well. He feels fit. He feels confident now. He’s doing the stuff with contact, so hopefully we can have him soon.”

“Yes, I think he [Mari] needed minutes, like Rob did, like Ainsley and like Reiss as well. I think it was a good game for them [for Arsenal under-23 against Manchester City under-23 last week] to get their fitness levels tested  as well and they trained today really well. They are all, I think, ready to play.”

Mari came through that game unscathed and should be make his first-team debut at Portsmouth on Monday. Joining Mari at the heart of the Arsenal defence, should be Sokratis Papastathopoulos.

With Tierney and Kolasinac still out, Bukayo Saka is an obvious choice to be the left-back. On the opposite flank, Ainsley Maitland-Niles should come in for Hector Bellerin. Behind the defence, Emiliano Martinez ought to get a rare start, with Bernd Leno being rested.Arsenal

The rotations should continue in midfield as well, with Granit Xhaka and Dani Ceballos being given a breather. In their stead, Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi are likely to start in the double pivot. Joe Willock will, meanwhile, reprise the no. 10 role, with Mesut Ozil due a rest.

Willock will play off Alexandre Lacazette, who should don the armband for Arsenal, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang not expected to start. Like Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepe should be rested against Portsmouth as well, with Reiss Nelson and Gabriel Martinelli expected to start as the two wide men, who will support central striker Lacazette.

Arsenal Predicted XI: Martinez; Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Mari, Saka; Guendouzi, Torreira; Nelson, Willock, Martinelli; Lacazette

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