It has been a busy week for Arsenal as the Gunners bid goodbye to stalwart Alexis Sanchez in a swap deal which saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan arrive at the Emirates. Fortunately enough, Arsenal got a good enough replacement in the form of the Armenian who had fallen out with Jose Mourinho during the course of the current season.
As the Gunners continue their pursuit of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund, Arsene Wenger has to make sure that his team progresses to the finals of the Carabao Cup. Arsenal will face Chelsea in the second leg of the semifinal clash which is evenly poised at 0-0 as of now. Chelsea currently look as the superior team but Arsenal roared back with an inspiring performance against Crystal Palace.
Nacho Monreal, who inspired Arsenal’s 4-1 rout of Crystal Palace, is a major doubt due to his hamstring injury. Santi Cazorla is a long-term absentee as Aaron Ramsey is sidelined with an illness. Danny Welbeck is recovering from his muscle problem but the major news will be the absence of Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The newly joined Armenian is cup-tied for the Carabao Cup as he has already featured for Manchester United in the competition a month ago. Olivier Giroud is nearing a return after spending a month on the sidelines.
David Ospina will start for Arsenal in between the sticks as Petr Cech has been rested for this particular competition.
Given the lack of competition for places in defence, Sead Kolasinac can return to the left side of the back three for Arsenal. The Bosnian had earlier played for the Gunners in that position and is strong and defensively aware to hold his end strong.
Shkodran Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny will be the other two centre-halves. Both of them bring in experience and would try their best to keep the Chelsea attackers at bay.
Hector Bellerin and Ainsley-Maitland Niles will be the two wingbacks in the four-man midfield. They possess an abundance of pace and energy but need to improve their final delivery into the box to help Arsenal create more chances at the other end.
Granit Xhaka and Jack Wilshere will occupy the central midfield positions. Xhaka has been strong defensively and has helped his team during set pieces. Meanwhile, Wilshere has shown increasing signs of improvement and has been a major source of creativity for this Arsenal side.
Alexandre Lacazette will be delighted having ended his goal-scoring drought against Crystal Palace. He will have to be far more clinical now as Arsenal are walking a very thin line currently.
Mesut Ozil has been Arsenal’s best player this season and the German would look to exploit the spaces and create chances for Lacazette. After Sanchez’s departure, Alex Iwobi might get an extended run of games to prove his credentials. How he uses it, is something that would be interesting to watch…