5 Changes, Holding Starts: Arsenal’s Predicted XI vs. West Brom On Boxing Day

Arsenal host West Brom on boxing day in what is already surely a must win if they wish to remain in the hunt for the title. The Gunners have had a catastrophic last week, losing two away games whilst all their title rivals picked up maximum points. 

Now Arsenal need to pick themselves up and respond. There’s no use feeling sorry for yourself, you need to go and prove everyone wrong. The team selection is critical, with many of the current first eleven proving to let the team down in recent games, surely Wenger will be looking to change it up a bit.

Goalkeeper: Petr Cech

I think Cech is certain to keep his place, however he needs to be careful. Letting that shot in at his near post from Sterling may have made Wenger think twice. Ospina has been brilliant when he’s played this season and Cech has looked far from his best. Wenger may be forced to drop Cech should he continue to have an error-prone season.

Defence: Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding, Laurent Koscielny, Kieran Gibbs

The defence NEEDS changing. Arsenal’s haven’t managed to keep a clean sheet in months and that is simply not good enough for a team with ambitions to win the title. Gabriel and Koscielny as a duo just doesn’t work – they are too similar in style. Summer signing Rob Holding deserves a chance to play alongside Koscielny – it worked in Basel and the Englishman has looked very composed and much more a Mustafi replacement when he has played. On the left-hand side I will be very disappointed should Gibbs not be given a start in this game. Monreal has looked fatigued and poor all season, whilst whenever Gibbs has had the chance to impress, he normally has. He needs more game time and the team needs some fresh legs, so that is the change that makes the most sense of all to me.

Midfield: Granit Xhaka, Mohammed Elneny; Lucas Perez, Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez

Midfield is another area that needs tweaking, in my opinion. Coquelin and Xhaka hasn’t worked too well and at home, I think we need to go for it a bit more. Dropping Coquelin for Elneny makes sense for me. The Egyptian has a bit more going forward, he’s full of energy and his passing is very reliable. That makes him a good partner for Xhaka who prefers to sit deeper, dictate and use his physicality. When Coquelin plays alongside Xhaka he is often pushed forward and it doesn’t really work due to the Frenchman’s limitations. Elneny would be more comfortable and effective in those more advanced areas. Elneny deserves a chance with his teammates struggling in the last couple of games and the team equally needs some fresh legs. On the right, Lucas Perez really deserves a start. The Spaniard has impressed when he’s been given a chance this season, but his game time has been really limited. With the likes of Chamberlain and Walcott struggling lately, now is the time for Lucas to come in and prove his worth. I’d shift Alexis back to the left for this one and keep Ozil in the hole.

Striker: Olivier Giroud

I think Giroud will get the nod in this game to help counteract the physical threat posed by West Brom. The Gunners do play better when Alexis Sanchez starts through the middle, but the last couple of performances have been poor and it is only fair to give Giroud, who has done well when he’s played, a chance.