The teams have been announced for our Champions League second leg clash with Barcelona, and Arsene Wenger has certainly surprised a few people with his team selection.
The biggest shocks are the inclusions of Mathieu Flamini and Alex Iwobi, with Wenger going for a mish-mash of youth and experience.
David Ospina continues in goal with still no Petr Cech, something the Barcelona forwards will be pleased to hear. Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal re-form the Spanish connection at right and left full-back respectively, while Laurent Koscielny returns to the side to partner Gabriel Paulista. This potentially suggests Wenger is planning to go all out in attack, and plans to play a high line which requires pace in defence.
Mathieu Flamini and Mohamed Elneny are partnered in midfield, with the Frenchman’s inclusion somewhat of a shock – especially given that his first act as a substitute in the first leg was to chop Lionel Messi down in the box and give away a penalty. Francis Coquelin is on the bench, perhaps still not fully recovered from his lengthy spell on the sidelines.
Mesut Özil, Alex Iwobi, and Alexis Sanchez start behind the striker, with the youngster rewarded for his recent good form with a Champions League start.
Similarly, Danny Welbeck is rewarded for his goal against Watford (ignoring his shocking miss) with a start up front, with Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott on the bench.
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The Barcelona team is as follows:
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) March 16, 2016
A predictably strong team from Luis Enrique, with the front three as dangerous as ever.
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This team is a bit of a mixture, and it’s unclear whether Wenger is going all out to win or just accepting that we’re as good as out of the competition. He seems to have done a bit of both, which could end up being a little detrimental to our season – which in all honesty is already in tatters.