Arsene Wenger’s journey in North London will come to an end soon and the Europa League offers him the final chance to taste European success that he has never experienced until now. The Frenchman might have had conquered England whilst being invincible all through the 2003/04 season but European success is something that has so far eluded him.
Maybe, it is meant to happen now, huh. Final season, hostile territory, unlikely victory; a stuff of dreams, isn’t it? Only time will tell whether the Arsenal players could give their manager a befitting farewell gift; however, the chances remain bleak and blurry as of now.
Some of the Arsenal players have suffered knocks but Wenger will hope to have a full-strength squad to field his playing XI. Henrikh Mkhitaryan was taken off against Manchester United as he felt some pain in his knee, but the Armenian should start this game. Same goes for Alex Iwobi and David Ospina, who are not fully fit but are expected to be prepared in time for the big showdown in Spain.
Arsenal’s designated goalkeeper for the Europa League, that is, David Ospina will undoubtedly start in this clash.
Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal will start as the two fullbacks. Monreal’s experience and the knack of scoring goals could come in handy, as Arsenal have to find a way past this stringent, well-drilled Atletico defence. Bellerin will try to provide some attacking firepower from the right flank.
Shkodran Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny will be playing at the heart of the defence. Koscielny’s error led to Griezmann’s goal in the first game and the experienced campaigner has to be at his best in this game.
Granit Xhaka will play as a holding midfielder and will be expected to sit back and nullify the opponent’s attacks whilst sitting in front of the defence. He will have to keep his challenges in check though, as the Swiss international has a tendency to go overboard with his tackles and is quite malicious at times.
Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere will flank Xhaka on either side. The Welsh international will hope to continue his good form in the Europa League. Wilshere will try to link the midfield with attack and would try to pick out some incisive passes to cut through the defence.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Mesut Ozil will probably have to play their best games of the season in order to ensure Arsenal’s progress to the final. Ozil will play on the right, whilst Mkhitaryan will start from the left, but their tendency to shift to the centre regularly and to switch flanks to pick out spaces will be useful against this Atletico defence.
Alexandre Lacazette will have to be clinical and tenacious whilst leading the line.