Arsenal take on Basel in their second group stage match in the Champions League on Wednesday. The Gunners are coming off their best performance in possibly a year, having beaten Chelsea 3-0, and go in to this match on a high.
Arsenal began their Champions League campaign with a good point against PSG. Their performance on the night was lacking, but the point was important in what is probably going to be their most difficult match in the group stage. A win on Wednesday will put them on course to qualifying comfortably.
The Gunners will have to do without Francis Coquelin who sustained a knee injury this weekend. Arsene Wenger expressed initial fears that the French midfielder could miss a couple months, although reports from France this morning indicated it’s merely a knee sprain and Coquelin could be back within three weeks. In his absence, Granit Xhaka will start.
With three days in between this match and Arsenal’s last match, and another three days in between Wednesday’s match and Arsenal’s following match, Wenger may do some tinkering, but is unlikely to change the lineup too much.
Here is Arsenal’s most probable starting lineup versus Basel on Wednesday.
Goalkeeper – Ospina
David Ospina gets the start having played exceptionally well against PSG two weeks ago. Ospina is deserving of his place in the squad and will take advantage of all opportunities he’s provided.
Right Back – Bellerin
Hector Bellerin put Eden Hazard in his pocket on Saturday, and eliminated a Pedro breakaway opportunity for good measure. The Spanish right back put in his most complete performance of the season. Most exciting though, was the chemistry between Bellerin and Theo Walcott on the right. Arsenal look a real threat from both flanks now.
Center Backs – Koscielny & Mustafi
While Bellerin had Hazard in has pocket, Shkodran Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny pushed Diego Costa off the map. The duo showed excellent aggression, matching each other tackle for tackle and interception for interception. They two are showing excellent chemistry and will look to continue their form on Wednesday.
Left Back – Monreal
Wenger may look to rotate at left back with Kieran Gibbs coming off the bench and playing well this weekend, and Nacho Monreal playing in every match but one so far this year. However, the manager’s tendency is to stick with the winning lineup and in all likelihood, Monreal will get the start.
Defensive Mid – Xhaka
Xhaka came on to replace the injured Coquelin and slotted into the side without any problems. The quality that Arsenal have on their bench was on display this weekend and the Gunners didn’t miss a beat with Xhaka in the side.
An opportunity to play against his old side should be an exciting occasion for Xhaka.
Central Mid – Cazorla
Santi Cazorla gets the start, although it’s possible we’ll see Mohamed Elneny. Like Monreal, Cazorla has played a lot already this year, and with the quality in midfield the Gunners have at their disposal, it wouldn’t be crazy to see Elneny lining up. Additionally, the Egyptian and Xhaka have struck a good partnership already and this could be a good opportunity to let them build together.
Like Xhaka, Elneny faces his former club, which is always interesting for players.
Attacking Mid – Özil
Mesut Özil was exceptional this weekend. The German playmaker and Alexis Sanchez seemed to have figured out a way to coexistent in the middle of the pitch and Özil was finally able to take advantage of the playmaking qualities of Alex Iwobi, and the speed in front of him between Alexis and Walcott.
This attacking four is really exciting to watch and keeping them on the pitch together is key for Arsenal this season.
Wide Right – Walcott
Walcott was again in excellent form this weekend and he looks like a changed man. Much of his good form is down to improved fitness – Theo has never lacked confidence – and it’s paying dividends. Putting it all together in two consecutive matches will be extremely encouraging to see from Walcott.
Wide Left – Iwobi
Iwobi is an exceptional young talent. The chemistry between Özil and him is exciting to see, and it’s interesting to watch how Iwobi follows his German teammate around the pitch, knowing they can easily play off of each other.
Iwobi is quickly becoming one of Arsenal’s key players.
Striker – Alexis
Alexis finally looked like the striker Wenger sees him as. The Chilean was sharp while nicking the ball from Gary Cahill, and composed when finishing with a lovely chip over Thibaut Courtois. His exquisite lob to Özil who finished on the volley was the icing on the cake for what was one of Alexis’ best performance in an Arsenal jersey.
Who knew that Arsenal had that sought after center forward in their squad all along!?
Via – Lineup Builder