Aubameyang only fit enough for Arsenal bench as Smith Rowe is handed shock start

By Ryan Benson 27 December 2020 14
Aubameyang only fit enough for Arsenal bench as Smith Rowe is handed shock start

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has only been deemed fit enough to start on Arsenal's bench for Saturday's Premier League clash with Chelsea, while Emile Smith Rowe was handed a shock start.

Aubameyang has been struggling with a calf injury and missed Arsenal's two previous games, though he is an option for the under-fire Mikel Arteta as a substitute.

Arsenal's squad is depleted, with the club confirming Gabriel Magalhaes is out for three games after coming into close contact with someone infected by coronavirus, while Willian and David Luiz are ill – though both have tested negative for COVID-19.

As such, Pablo Mari comes into the defence for his first Premier League appearance of the season, while Smith Rowe starts in midfield.

The 20-year-old featured as a substitute in the EFL Cup defeat to Manchester City in midweek, though he has not played a Premier League game since December 21, 2019.

There is also a welcome return to Arsenal's Premier League line-up for Gabriel Martinelli.

The young Brazilian started against City but has been limited to one cameo in the league since suffering a knee injury in June, while a knock sustained in the week was only minor.

There are few surprises in Frank Lampard's starting XI, though former Gunner Olivier Giroud has to make do with a spot on the bench.

Timo Werner and Christian Pulisic are joined by Tammy Abraham in attack, with the Blues appearing to line up with a 4-3-3 formation.

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