Arsenal midfielder Mattéo Guendouzi ruled him out of one of his club’s biggest games of the season on Wednesday by picking up a red card in the League Cup.
The 19-year-old collected two yellow cards against Blackpool at The Emirates, and will subsequently miss The Reds’ visit to The Emirates tomorrow evening.
This will force manager Unai Emery to tweak his team for Saturday’s showcase, with Granit Xhaka likely to play in the midfield in the French teenager’s absence.
The 26-year-old Swiss has been playing at left-back over the past few weeks, but that seems like a hugely risky move seeing as he would be lining up against one of the world’s best in Mo Salah. The Egyptian would surely find an out-of-position defender’s weaknesses and be able to expose them. In truth, with Guendouzi out or not, it seemed likely that Xhaka would not be in defence.
Therefore, the suspension to the summer signing Guendouzi means that Emery has been forced to fit the 70-cap Switzerland international in the midfield. As a result, there is a huge amount of pressure on the player to perform.
Alongside fellow central midfielder Lucas Torreira, Xhaka has a Herculean task of supporting his defenders against one of the most lethal attacks in Europe. Xhaka has been renowned in the past for his defensive fragility, but Arsenal simply cannot afford that tomorrow, otherwise they may be on the end of an unfortunate scoreline.
Xhaka has pulled out some very impressive performances for The Gunners in the past, and tomorrow requires another one.