The Gunners squad is already stretched thin and it’s only the opening weekend of the Premier League. There is still time however, with Wenger again stressing that he will invest in the squad this summer, but with two weeks left it will be tight.
The Gunners face Aston Villa, with top scorer and reported Arsenal target Christian Benteke leading the line for the Villains and will be looking to expose Wenger’s inconsistent back line.
The first interesting choice will be the selected goalkeeper. Both Szczesny and Fabianksi have featured in pre-season and both were solid. Last season Szczesny was first choice, however a dip in form prior to Arsenal’s impressive run-in saw Fabianski step in and bolster the defence before succumbing to injury, allowing the younger Polish international to steal the limelight back. It will be a tricky choice however it seems Szczesny is Wenger’s go-to man.
In pre-season Arsenal lacked cohesion at the back and conceded numerous, silly goals which must be cut out ahead of this weekend’s opener. Luckily, Wenger has a first choice selection of defenders to choose from despite the injuries to captain Thomas Vermaelen and Nacho Monreal. The backline basically picks itself with Sagna on the right, Gibbs on the left and Mertesacker and Koscielny continuing their fruitful relationship through the centre.
In midfield it gets tough. Arteta is struggling for fitness and looks highly likely to miss the tie while Cazorla returns late from international duty, the latter will play some part in the game. Aaron Ramsey’s ankle knock is still unknown, however Wenger failed to bring it up in his team news, meaning he should be fine.
Jack Wilshere will definitely start, most likely alongside Ramsey if Arteta is out with Tomas Rosicky (if fit) starting ahead of the duo. If the Czech is not back then we can expect to see Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the CAM role.
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Lots of ‘ifs’ there, but unfortunately that’s Arsenal’s situation at the moment. Not only is the squad thin numbers wise generally, there are a bunch of injury worries already.
On the wings, Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski will almost definitely start on either flank, with Cazorla potentially coming on later on. Up front will be Olivier Giroud who will want to build upon his promising pre-season form.
Predicted lineup 1 (without the injury doubts, the optimistic XI):
Sagna Mertesacker (c) Koscielny Gibbs
Predicted lineup 2 (if the doubts are ruled out):
Sagna Mertesacker Koscielny Gibbs
What are your thoughts Gooners??
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