Mikel Arteta may reluctantly be forced to make a change to his centre-back partnership for the first time in the Premier League this season.

The Gunners face London rivals Crystal Palace at the Emirates Stadium where a win would see them extend their lead at the top to eight points over Manchester City.


Arsenal boss Arteta could be forced into making changes at the back against Palace[/caption]

Saliba went off due to injury against Sporting Lisbon midweek

Arsenal go into the match having won five consecutive top-flight matches, while the Eagles are yet to taste victory in 2023 – leading Patrick Vieira to get the sack on Friday.

And Arteta’s side will be desperate to claim the three points after their shock Europa League exit on Thursday as Sporting Lisbon won on penalties.

To make matters worse for Arsenal, both Takehiro Tomiyasu and William Saliba were forced off with first half injuries.

Tomiyasu was spotted on crutches after the match after picking up a knee knock, while Saliba appeared to have a suffered a muscle problem in his lower back.

Commenting on the pair ahead of the Palace clash, Arteta said: “Tomiyasu looks pretty serious, for his reaction straight away and what he said to me.

“Obviously, it’s very early and difficult to know. William, I don’t know. He had some discomfort and could not carry on, so we had to take him off.”


Tomiyasu went off with appeared to be a serious knee injury on Thursday[/caption]

It is understood that Saliba will be assessed over whether he is fit enough to face Palace with the Frenchman currently a doubt to take part.

Though Japanese right-back Tomiyasu looks set for a spell on the sidelines after damaging his knee.

With that in mind, talkSPORT.com takes a look at how Arsenal might line-up against their south London opponents.

Aaron Ramsdale will almost certainly keep his place between the sticks having failed to miss a Premier League game since last year.

Ramsdale is Arsenal’s undisputed No1 goalkeeper following his arrival last season

Should Arteta refuse to risk Saliba, Rob Holding could come in for his first Premier League start of the season where he would partner Gabriel Magalhaes at centre-back.

Ben White would be the ideal choice to slot in his natural position, but with Tomiyasu out, he will have to keep his place at right-back.

January signing Jakub Kiwior is also another centre-back option, but the Poland international is yet to feature in the league, with Arteta also preferring not to play two left-footed centre-halves together.

Oleksandr Zinchenko would then start at left-back once again instead of Kieran Tierney to complete the back-four.


Holding could partner Gabriel in the heart of defence against the Eagles[/caption]

Thomas Partey would then feature as a lone defensive midfielder, with skipper Martin Odegaard and Granit Xhaka to play in their usual box-to-box roles.

Bukayo Saka is likely to keep his place on the right wing, with Gabriel Martinelli to be deployed on the opposite flank.

Arteta then has a big decision to make over who leads the line, with Leandro Trossard excelling in the false nine role.

The Belgian has started the last five games, where he has chipped in with as many assists – with three coming in last week’s 3-0 away win at Fulham.

But Gabriel Jesus is now fully fit, with the Brazilian starting against Sporting on Thursday night.

Though Arteta may decide to start Jesus from the bench before unleashing him after the international break.

This is how Arsenal could start at the Emirates on Sunday if Saliba is ruled out


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