After starting the new Premier League campaign with three successive defeats, the Gunners have bounced back strongly with back-to-back 1-0 wins against Norwich City and Burnley respectively.
Mikel Arteta’s side reached the third round of the EFL Cup by thrashing West Brom 6-0 and will head into the midweek London derby as overwhelming favourites.
Meanwhile, AFC Wimbledon, seventh in the Football League One table, play an exciting, expansive brand of football with lots of energy and intensity under manager Mark Robinson.
The Dons have reached this stage of the competition by beating Charlton Athletic and Northampton Town, and will look to pull off an upset at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal vs AFC Wimbledon—Team News
Granit Xhaka remains unavailable due to suspension, while Kieran Tierney is a doubt due to cramp. Mohamed Elneny is nursing a hamstring problem and is unlikely to feature.
Bernd Leno will be in goal against AFC Wimbledon, having seemingly lost his No.1 spot to summer signing Aaron Ramsdale. In front of Leno, there could be a reshuffle in defence with Ben White, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Kieran Tierney and Gabriel being rested for the weekend’s north London derby against Tottenham.
Cedric Soares could get the nod at right-back with Nuno Tavares starting on the other side of the defence. The Gunners’ centre-back pairing against Wednesday’s London rivals could be Rob Holding and Pablo Mari.
In midfield, Albert Sambi Lokonga is widely expected to start. Ainsley Maitland-Niles did well after coming on as a substitute at Burnley and could find himself in Arteta’s starting XI on Wednesday.
Alexandre Lacazette and Gabriel Martinelli will be handed opportunities to get their season up and running. Emile Smith Rowe will look to pull the strings from the No.10 role and help Arsenal dominate the game. Eddie Nketiah could be preferred ahead of Nicolas Pepe on the right flank and the academy graduate must take that chance with both hands.
Visitors AFC Wimbledon will be without key defender Paul Kalambayi while Jack Rudoni will be assessed before the game. Other than them, Mark Robinson has a fit squad at his disposal against Arsenal.
— AFC Wimbledon (@AFCWimbledon) September 21, 2021
Nikola Tzanev is the Dons’ first-choice goalkeeper and should start the game at the Emirates Stadium. Considering Wimbledon have nothing to lose, Robinson is likely to field his best XI. That being said, Will Nightingale, Daniel Csoka, Ben Heneghan and Henry Lawrence should form the backline.
George Marsh was an unused substitute in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Plymouth Argyle but is expected to start in midfield against the Gunners. Partnering Marsh in midfield should be Alex Woodyard, who has featured in every single league game of the season so far.
Luke McCormick will add creativity to Robinson’s side from the No.10 role, with Ayoub Assal and Dapo Mebude providing width and energy down the flanks. Aaron Pressley, on loan from Brentford, will lead the Dons’ attack against Arteta’s men. Ollie Palmer is an option off the bench.
Arsenal vs AFC Wimbledon—Predicted Lineups
Arsenal Predicted Lineup (4-2-3-1): Bernd Leno; Cedric Soares, Rob Holding, Pablo Mari, Nuno Tavares; Sambi Lokonga, Ainsley Maitland-Niles; Eddie Nketiah, Emil Smith Rowe, Gabriel Martinelli; Alexandre Lacazette
AFC Wimbledon Predicted Lineup (4-2-3-1): Nikola Tzanev; Daniel Csoka, Will Nightingale, Ben Heneghan, Henry Lawrence; George Marsh, Alex Woodyard; Luke McCormick, Ayoub Assal, Dapo Mebude; Aaron Pressley
Arsenal vs AFC Wimbledon—Key Players
Arsenal—Emile Smith Rowe
Emile Smith Rowe is a highly-rated, young English talent who adds that bit of spark and energy to Arsenal’s play. He has the qualities to open up rigid defences, and having witnessed AFC Wimbledon play an aggressive, attacking football under Robinson, Smith Rowe could get spaces to operate and link play with his teammates in the final third.
AFC Wimbledon—Ayoub Assal
AFC Wimbledon graduate Ayoub Assal has started the Football League One Season in good form. The teenager, who has become a prominent fixture in the first team under Robinson, is a dynamic player that can exploit Arsenal’s weaknesses in defence. He’ll have to be at his sublime best on Wednesday if the League One outfit are to harbour any hopes of pulling off an upset.
Prediction: Arsenal 4-1 AFC Wimbledon