Arsenal host AS Monaco tonight in the Champions League Round of 16 first leg at Emirates Stadium and Arsene Wenger has a few tricky decisions to make.
The Arsenal manager confirmed via the official website that Jack Wilshere is a major doubt but moved quickly to deny a setback in his recovery, albeit he was unlikely to start anyway. Elsewhere Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is fit and available but will be resigned to the bench after missing a number of weeks.
Let’s start in goal. The ongoing debate continues and Wenger offered little in his press conference over who will start between the sticks. David Ospina has been the first choice recently, but a few dodgy decisions of late and a minor back issue offer cause for concern. In his absence, Wojciech Szczesny would be brought in.
At the back, we are unlikely to see many changes apart from on the right. A clean sheet is paramount for the home tie and keeping consistency with our back line is key which is unfortunate for new signing Gabriel. Calum Chambers could look to make way for fellow youngster Hector Bellerin too. The Spaniard missed out on the weekend through injury, but trained yesterday and will likely return to our preferred lineup. Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal get the nod too. It appears Wenger likes to have the balance of one more ‘reserved’ full back with an attacking minded defender, such is the case with Bellerin and Monreal which has boded well for our defence at times recently.
In midfield, Wenger will keep the same trio of Francis Coquelin, Santi Cazorla and Mesut Ozil. There could be an opportunity to see experienced head Tomas Rosicky come in and push Ozil out wide, but we should keep the coherency we’ve been building with our midfield set up.
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Danny Welbeck was superb against Crystal Palace and will keep his place. Almost went for Theo Walcott here, but we need to set out not to concede and the Englishman is prone to leaving his defender exposed. Is he still be in punished for not closing down Bentaleb for Spurs’ winner? He certainly seems to be feeling the repercussions of a lack of defensive awareness.
Olivier Giroud will spearhead the attack with Alexis Sanchez on the other wing who will be hoping to get back on the scoresheet once again.
Here is our predicted lineup:
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Stay tuned for further pre-match coverage.