Mikel Arteta’s decision hints at shock Alexandre Lacazette replacement for Arsenal vs Brentford – Football.London

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is set to be without Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette against Brentford.

The Gunners’ preparations for the new Premier League season were first rocked when Goal indicated that illness is the likely reason for the former’s absence against the Bees.

Shortly afterwards, The Athletic reported that Lacazette will also be unavailable for selection at the Brentford Community Stadium tonight.

While last season was a struggle for Arsenal in terms of converting chances, Aubameyang and Lacazette still contributed 32 goals between them across all competitions and will certainly be a massive loss as Arteta looks to start the new campaign with three points.

With that said, not being able to call upon Aubameyang and Lacazette from the start is not a new problem for Arteta as this was the case on one occasion last season.

The first-leg of the Gunners’ Europa League semi-final against Villarreal saw the Spaniard faced with a similar dilemma.

Aubameyang was deemed not fit enough to be named in the starting XI, while Lacazette didn’t make the matchday squad after suffering an injury setback against Fulham 11 days prior.

And even though Eddie Nketiah – a natural centre-forward – and Gabriel Martinelli were available for selection, Arteta sprung a surprise by asking Emile Smith Rowe to operate as a ‘false 9’.

Of course, the plan backfired as the attacking midfielder simply didn’t look comfortable as the first line of attack, but it could be a hint as to what Arteta might have planned for the trip to Brentford.

Interestingly, the situation isn’t too dissimilar four months on from that disappointing night in Spain as Martinelli is once again available and instead of the injured Nketiah, Folarin Balogun will be pushing for his Premier League debut.

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Alternatively, Arteta can avoid repeating that mistake simply by keeping Smith Rowe in his favoured No.10 role behind the central striker that could be either Balogun or Martinelli.

Then on the left-wing, Martinelli, Willian and Bukayo Saka are all viable options to take the place of Aubameyang.

But it remains to be seen what Arteta does as all will be made clear once the team he has selected to face the Premier League new boys is announced an hour before kick-off.

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