Arsenal travel to Ludogorets and on Tuesday night they know that 3 points are needed if they have ambitions to top their Champions League group.
The Gunners will be forced to rotate because of some injuries and as some players need to be rested. Amongst those who haven’t travelled are Nacho, Hector, Santi and Theo. With that in mind, I take a look at the likely Arsenal XI for the game against Ludogorets.
Ospina will get the gloves back in goal and after three quality performances so far in the group, he definitely deserves too. Another good performance would put pressure on Cech.
Defence: Jenkinson, Mustafi, Koscielny, Gibbs
With both full backs changing in recent weeks, I would suggest that it is important to maintain the defensive duo of Mustafi and Koscielny to keep some balance and consistency to the side. The central defensive pair also need to play alongside each other as much as possible to continue to strengthen their partnership. It will be a big test for English full backs Jenkinson and Gibbs, both of whom started the season as back ups, but both will have ambitions to increase their game time. With Hector and Nacho left at home, they are certain to start – although Wenger has said even without Hector he has ‘3 or 4 right backs in the squad’. Hopefully Bellerin’s injury isn’t serious and he will be back for the North London Derby on Sunday.
Midfield: Xhaka, Elneny; Ox, Ramsey, Iwobi
With Cazorla out, you’d expect the deep midfield pairing to be comprised of Xhaka and Elneny. After being suspended (and therefore rested) in the last three domestic games, Xhaka should be fresh and ready to impress. Alongside him it is likely to be Elneny, who has played recently, but he hasn’t featured as regularly as some of the others who may need a rest. The Egyptian was good and positive against Sunderland and he deserves to keep his place. He is very reliable on the ball, a calm presence that you can trust to distribute the ball well and also play box-to-box. Aaron Ramsey is back and could replace Ozil in that number 10 role, as the German looks like he needs a rest, although he should be on the bench, whilst Iwobi and Ox are likely to start on the wings again as Walcott is still out injured. Wenger has hinted in his press conference today that Walcott is close to returning to fitness though and that means he is almost certain to start against Tottenham considering his early season form.
Giroud is back, and with a bang. His two goals at the weekend showed how he can be such a valuable asset and particularly a plan B. With Alexis playing a lot of games recently, I would not be surprised at all to see the Frenchman start this game, and Alexis starting on the bench, ensuring he will be fresh for the crucial North London derby. In truth we shouldn’t need Alexis or Ozil to get past the Bulgarian side, though their presence on the bench would be useful if they are required. Players like Giroud and Ramsey are good enough to get the 3 points in this game, Arsenal need to ensure they don’t burnout early like they have in previous seasons.
What would your line-up be? Tweet us @FreshFootball to share your thoughts