Charlie Nicholas believes Unai Emery should leave Granit Xhaka out of his starting XI for Sunday’s Premier League meeting with Aston Villa.
The 26-year-old has started in four of the Gunners’ opening five league games this season and is among the favourites to be named the club’s new captain.
However, the Switzerland international has struggled to find his best form and was heavily criticised after he gave away a penalty during the recent 2-2 draw with local rivals Tottenham .
Since that game, Xhaka has played 90 minutes in both the 2-2 draw with Watford last weekend and Thursday’s 3-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League.
However, former Arsenal and Scotland striker Nicholas believes Emery should consider dropping the midfielder for Sunday’s game at the Emirates and said he would also like to see more from record signing Nicholas Pepe.
In his Sky Sports predictions for this weekend’s games, Nicholas wrote: “Where do I start with Arsenal? They must get more from Nicolas Pepe and he must be match fit now.
“Pepe needs to use his trickery and pace to help Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Unai Emery must stick with Reiss Nelson or Joe Willock.
“How can you make sense of the defence? I don’t know who will partner David Luiz.
“It doesn’t matter whether there are one or two midfielders protecting the back four and I think it is time to leave Granit Xhaka out of the side.”
The former Scotland international added: “There are a lot of goals for Arsenal at home. Dani Ceballos must play and Mesut Ozil too – they moved it around well last week.
“I like Mateo Guendouzi but he is young, naïve and gets attracted to the ball.
“They need to sort themselves out in defence and if they are not good enough, you leave them out.”