Time to put the Champions League exit behind us and travel up north to Newcastle. The Magpies will certainly not be a walkover but we need to rest some key personnel – namely Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez.
The duo have played consistently and are invaluable to this side in the long term. Alexis played 65 minutes against West Ham United and the duration of the win over Monaco, not to mention he has two international friendlies on the horizon including one in London. Similarly Ozil has a hectic fixture list ahead, and the two should receive a rest against Newcastle, at least starting from the bench. Those are perhaps the notable changes.
Wenger confirmed the following team news:
We have no new big injuries, we have some knocks, but nothing major. Mathieu Debuchy is two or three weeks away, Arteta and Wilshere as well. Arteta will maybe come back after the [international] break. Tomas Rosicky is hopefully available again for the weekend.
In goal we’ve gone for David Ospina, with Hector Bellerin, Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny with Nacho Monreal on the left. Gabriel is a hot contender for a start, but not sure we can afford to let off at the back. We had a solid performance away to Monaco and will want to continue the solidity. Per Mertesacker has retired from international duty now so he will receive a decent rest ahead of the Liverpool match over Easter, so perhaps Koscielny will make way if he does not recover sufficiently from our midweek excursion.
In midfield Francis Coquelin gets the nod at the base of our engine room with Aaron Ramsey just ahead. Santi Cazorla starts in the No10 role after receiving a rest against West Ham United and will hope to build on his sublime recent form in a more advanced role.
Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck get the nod on either wing with the in-form Olivier Giroud spearheading the attack. Of course we could see Welbeck lead the line, but for me Giroud is indispensable at present.
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Here is our predicted lineup:
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