Arsenal will face Wigan Athletic on Saturday in the FA Cup semifinals, a very important match for the Gunners, since it’s the only competition they have a real shot at winning.
Arsenal have many injured players, so Arsène Wenger will have to think a lot about the lineup, taking into account that they also play an important match in the Premier League next Tuesday against West Ham. He’ll surely play with a 4-2-3-1 scheme as he always does.
The goalkeeper will be Łukasz Fabiański, as Wenger confirmed in press conference. He’s not the usual goalkeeper, but in FA Cup the boss usually chooses him instead of Wojciech Szczęsny – actually, he played from the beginning in all games in this FA Cup, with good performances.
In defense, center back Laurent Koscielny (calf) is still out –he may come back on Tuesday– , while left back Kieran Gibbs (ankle) is in doubt, and Wenger will wait for him until the last minute. Anyway, if he is fit, I don’t think that he’ll play in the lineup but go to the bench, in order to have him ready for the West Ham match.
That being said, the defense is quite definite: Bacary Sagna in the right back as always, Thomas Vermaelen and Per Mertesacker in the center back and Nacho Monreal in the left back.
The main problem for this match is the midfield. Besides the long-term injuries of Jack Wilshere (foot) and Theo Walcott (knee), Mesut Özil (hamstring) isn’t ready to return yet, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (groin) and Tomas Rosicky (thigh) are in doubt. According to Wenger, they’re 50:50 and both will be last minute decisions.
Furthermore, Mathieu Flamini is suspended after seeing his 10th yellow card in the last game against Everton. For that reason, Wenger confirmed Aaron Ramsey in the lineup. Rambo came back after a three-month thigh injury last Sunday against Everton, and he’ll be in the lineup for the first time since Boxing Day.
I think that Mikel Arteta will be Ramsey partner in the defensive midfield, while Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla will play in the offensive midfield for sure. There remains one midfielder, and the doubt will last until the last minute as the boss said, in order to see if Chamberlain or Rosicky are fit.
I believe that neither of them will start, since Wenger has to be cautious about them taking into account the Tuesday match. If you ask me, I’d say that Serge Gnabry will be the last midfielder. Other option is the Swedish Kim Kallstrom, but Wenger doesn’t usually rely on him and in my opinion he’ll go to the bench.
It’s true that with Podolski and Gnabry in the pitch and Flamini out the midfield would be extremely offensive, but Wenger doesn’t have too many choices. Moreover, he surely wants an offensive team against a second division squad like Wigan, even when they are the defending champions and have beaten Manchester City in quarter-finals.
Finally, the striker will be Olivier Giroud for sure, since he’s always Wenger’s first choice. The second option, Yaya Sanogo, will go to the bench and enter the match only if the Frenchman is having a bad game.