The Gunners travel to Wales with a near full-strength side. Just two (bar Diaby) first team stars remain injured in The Ox and Podolski, with Theo Walcott back in the mix, Wenger has a wealth of options.
At the back it will be business as usual, Bacary Sagna continues to impress on the right hand side, Kosacker get another clean sheet under their belt while Kieran Gibbs is back fit once again and will most likely get the nod over Monreal. The Spain international did a fantastic job against Marseille and will feel hard done by to not get another call up, however Gibbs does offer a bit more in terms of pace and tenacity. It is pleasing that the Gunners have such a fantastic left back on the bench waiting in the wings for his chance.
Another player who is in fine form and begs the question of whether he can be dropped is Jack Wilshere. The Englishman played very well against Southampton and received our man of the match award for his heroics against Marseille in midweek, netting his first brace for the club.
The 21-year-old has occupied the wing of late and could still keep Walcott out of the starting lineup should Wenger opt to not rest the midfielder. Ozil has tended to drift to the flank which in turn has allowed Wilshere to head centrally. The combination has worked well recently, especially as it has allowed Ramsey to play alongside the holding midfielder, so should Walcott get the nod over Wilshere? On form, I’d have to say no.
Another possibility is whether Ramsey would receive a rest. It seems unlikely however, the former Cardiff star will relish the challenge of returning to his childhood side and this is something Wenger will consider. He has played an awful lot of games this season, but sat out the past international break and he seems rejuvenated of late. Plus the fact that there is no upcoming midweek match should allow the Welshman to start.
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So this means either Arteta or Flamini alongside Ramsey. The age old Arsenal debate. The Spaniard sat out much of the Champions League match while Flamini was suspended last weekend, now Wenger has a tough decision to make. In terms of the defensive midfield role it appears Flamini is the smarter choice. Although Arteta does bring so much to the team in terms of composure and distribution, the Frenchman is a natural defender and not only is he a scary figure for the opposition with his tough tackling, he barks orders around the pitch and has a very commanding presence. Also, who doesn’t enjoy a bit of sleeve cutting? Arteta can still play a key role in the latter stages of the match however.
The other tricky choice is who to field on the left. Cazorla was rested in midweek with Rosicky taking up his place on the flank, and although he failed to really stamp his authority on the match the Czech international oozes class. But the Spaniard gets our nod for the Cardiff fixture as he is a more natural winger and provides width to Arsenal’s frontline, but he will tend to drift inside often. Perhaps Walcott should have a crack as an inverted winger on the left hand side?
Nicklas Bendtner will start up front. Provided he isn’t behind bars. (Joke). Seriously though.. What is that guy up to?
Olivier Giroud will hope to build upon his brace last weekend and start scoring more out of London, something he has failed to really do. Only one of Olivier Giroud’s 18 Premier League goals has been scored outside London.
Sagna Koscielny Mertesacker (c) Gibbs
What are your thoughts and ideas? Comment below..