Arsene Wenger made a bold decision on Monday night, to shift to a back 3, something he has not done during his reign at the club. Will he stick with this formation against Manchester City on Sunday in the FA Cup semifinal?
It’s anyone’s guess, but surely after getting back to winning ways against Boro, Wenger will be tempted to stick with what got him the 3 points on Monday and what the team have been working on in training most recently.
Below I take a look at the 3-4-3 eleven that, in my opinion, would be best equipped to help Arsenal advance to another FA Cup final…
Goalkeeper: Petr Cech
Cech hasn’t won Arsenal many points this season, so it would be nice for him to make the difference in this semi-final. He’ll certainly need to have a good game to keep City at bay and keep the Gunners in the tie.
Defence: Gabriel, Laurent Koscielny, Rob Holding
Mustafi is out with an injury still, so it looks like Arsenal will go with the same back three that they selected against Boro. Holding may seem the obvious player to drop out due to his age and inexperience, but his performance against Boro and whenever he has featured for Arsenal means he deserves to keep his place. Monreal is an option as a left-sided centre-back too, and I personally would rather him than Gabriel, but Wenger will not do that.
Midfield: Hector Bellerin, Granit Xhaka, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Kieran Gibbs
Arsenal opted for Monreal and the Ox as wing backs against Boro, but I think both of these players would struggle in those positions against a team with City’s attacking quality. Here I’d like to see the quick full-back duo of Bellerin and Gibbs. Both players can offer a good attacking threat, but they also have the pace and defensive experience to do the dirty side of the role. Monreal’s lack of pace would see him get seriously exposed on the left and I feel Gibbs is better equipped to handle the threat of City down the right.
In the centre, I think Xhaka is an essential part of the team, whilst the in-form Ox should be his partner. Contrary to popular belief, I think Ramsey did very well against Boro, but Ox has shown more consistency in recent weeks and does not deserve to get dropped.
Attack: Theo Walcott, Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil
Giroud seriously struggled in this formation at Boro and I think he should certainly be dropped for the game against City. I’d have Alexis as the main man through the middle, with the pace of Walcott and creativity of Ozil supplementing him either side. Giroud is often selected for his added height to help Arsenal defend and attack set pieces, but with three central defenders in the team I think we will be fine in this department, and this is hardly a strength of City’s.