How Arsenal could line up with Thomas Partey vs Tottenham as star set for injury return

Arsenal are in need of an injection of positivity heading into Sunday’s match against north London rivals Tottenham – and Thomas Partey could provide them that. Partey is set to return to training today [Friday] following almost a month out with a thigh injury. Mikel Arteta says the Ghana international is almost too desperate to play but hopes to have him available from the start of this weekend’s derby.

Arteta has switched to a four-at-the-back formation in recent matches but results have proved that isn’t working in the Premier League.

So the Spaniard could revert to a back three and set up almost identically to the 1-0 win over Manchester United last month.

If fit, Partey is likely to slot into a midfield two alongside Mohamed Elneny to give the Gunners’ defence some protection.

The pair were arguably the best two players on the pitch at Old Trafford and they need to be on their game again against a strong Spurs midfield.

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Bernd Leno will keep his place in goal but Arteta has a decision to make over the makeup of his back three.

If David Luiz’s cut from his nasty collision with Raul Jimenez has healed sufficiently, then expect to see the Brazilian line up.

However, Rob Holding will come into the side if that is not the case.

The impressive Gabriel will be the central defender, with Kieran Tierney to his left.

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Hector Bellerin and Bukayo Saka are likely to be the wing-backs if Arteta does indeed play this formation.

Bellerin in particular may have to restrict how much he goes forward to attempt to thwart the likes of Heung-min Son, who will drift in off the left when Harry Kane drops deep.

In attack, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could be set for a return back to the left-hand side after two disappointing games centrally.

That could give a chance to Alexandre Lacazette, who impressed in the 4-1 Europa League win over Rapid Vienna on Thursday.

Lacazette dropped deep, similar to how Kane does for Spurs, playing off main striker Eddie Nketiah.

Although that won’t quite be the way Arteta lines up on Sunday, having Saka and Tierney potentially pushing forward down the left, Aubameyang will have the chance at times to come inside and feed off what Lacazette can provide him.

The final spot up for grabs is on the right of the front three, which could again be handed to Willian.

Reiss Nelson was substituted just after the hour mark against Vienna, so may be being saved for this match.

But Arteta is unlikely to give the 20-year-old a first Premier League start of this season in a game of this magnitude.

Willian has fond memories of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, having scored two goals and put in a man of the match performance for Chelsea there almost 12 months ago.

The Arsenal XI Arteta could pick against Tottenham in full: Leno; Luiz, Gabriel, Tierney; Bellerin, Elneny, Partey, Saka; Willian, Lacazette, Aubameyang

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