Arsenal defender Calum Chambers is expected to start his first Premier League game for the Gunners in 463 days, when Unai Emery’s side travel to Tyneside to open the season away to Newcastle United, according to the Evening Standard.
The 3-cap England international last started a top-flight fixture for the North London club when they thrashed Burnley 5-0 in May 2018, having spent last season on loan with Fulham.
His time with the Cottagers returned 31 appearances across all competitions, but also led to his second relegation from the Premier League, having been a part of the Middlesbrough side that finished 19th in 2016/17.
Arsenal are short on centre-back options heading into the curtain-raiser, though, as Emery’s outfit have parted company with former club captain Laurent Koscielny, and may feel Sunday’s clash comes too soon for summer signing David Luiz, who completed an £8million transfer late on Deadline Day.
Fellow summer arrivals Kieran Tierney and Nicolas Pepe are both unlikely to feature, as well, as the Scottish left-back is four-to-six weeks out from a return following a groin injury, while the Gunners’ club-record purchase is regaining his fitness following the Africa Cup of Nations.
Hector Bellerin and Rob Holding are also working their way back from injuries sustained last season, whereas Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac were withdrawn from the visiting Arsenal squad on Friday following further security incidents, which are being investigated by the police.
In place of Tierney, Kolasinac had been pencilled in by the Evening Standard for the visitors’ starting XI in a back-four alongside Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Chambers and Sokratis, however his spot would likely now be awarded to Nacho Monreal, while Bernd Leno is due to start in goal.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang would be expected to kick the game off on the right-wing instead of £72million man Pepe, but may be moved into the centre if Alexandre Lacazette fails a late fitness test, as the Frenchman has an issue with his right ankle.
Should Emery favour Aubameyang at striker, Reiss Nelson is the man said to be in line for a starting role, joining Granit Xhaka, Matteo Guendouzi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan in a five-man midfield, with the Armenian down as the Gunners’ left-wing option, leaving the previously-Ozil designated central role vacant.
But with the German now remaining in London, it would be likely that Mkhitaryan moves into the central attacking midfield role, with Nelson and Aubameyang lining-up on either flank, providing Lacazette paces his late fitness test.