Chris Sutton names the front four Mikel Arteta must pick against Villarreal

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette are in contention to feature for Arsenal against Villarreal this evening
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette are in contention to feature for Arsenal against Villarreal this evening (Picture: Getty / YouTube)

Mikel Arteta has been urged to resist the temptation to throw his most experienced forwards straight back into the Arsenal starting line-up for tonight’s Europa League semi-final first leg against Villarreal by Chris Sutton.

The Gunners are hoping to salvage a hugely disappointing season by progressing to the final of competition that offers them their only remaining hope of playing in Europe next season.

Arsenal produced, arguably, their most accomplished performance of the campaign so far in the previous round, brushing Slavia Prague aside and cruising to a stunning 4-0 second leg victory.

Arteta’s side have faltered, however, since that win, drawing against lowly Fulham thanks to a 97th minute equaliser and suffering a first home defeat against Everton since 1996.

The beleaguered Gunners manager will, at least, be able to call upon the likes of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang again but Sutton believes it is not worth risking either player against Villarreal.

Gabriel Martinelli has been used sparingly by Mikel Arteta following his return from injury
Gabriel Martinelli has been used sparingly by Mikel Arteta following his return from injury (Picture: Getty)

Instead, the former Chelsea striker has urged Arteta to place his faith in teenager Gabriel Martinelli, who has been used only sparingly since his return to full fitness following a lengthy spell out with a serious knee injury.

‘There is space to exploit behind this Villarreal back line,’ Sutton told the Daily Mail.

‘A ball over the top and a curved run from Antoine Griezmann was how Barcelona equalised against them in LaLiga last week. That’s a job made for Arsenal’s Gabriel Martinelli.

‘Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are struggling to be fit for this semi-final first leg, so I’d like to see the 19-year-old Brazilian in the centre forward position.

‘Behind Martinelli, I would use the improving Nicolas Pepe on the left, the exciting Emile Smith Rowe at No 10, and the lively Bukayo Saka on the right.

‘These kids have bailed out their boss more than once this season. They can do it again on Thursday night.’

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