Arsenal take on PSG at the Emirates on Wednesday in their fifth match of the Champions League group stage. The winner of this match will likely finish first in the group, although a draw would put Arsenal in good standing as they slightly edge out PSG in goal difference.
PSG will have to do without the services of Adrien Rabiot and Javier Pastore, who are both injured, while there are serious doubts over the availability of Angel Di Maria who hobbled off with a hamstring injury over the weekend. Arsenal will miss Hector Bellerin and Santi Cazorla, who are both out for at least the next few weeks. There are also doubts over Alexis Sanchez, who despite playing over the weekend with a hamstring injury, could be held out to prevent further damage.
Arsene Wenger will again have some tough lineup choices to make. Against Manchester United, he played Aaron Ramsey on the left in an attempt to solidify the center of the pitch. That choice stymied Arsenal’s attacking vibrancy and the manager will now have to decide whether he wants to force Ramsey into the lineup out of position again. There will also be decision to be had over Granit Xhaka, Alex Iwobi, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – all of whom are pushing for a first team birth this week.
Here is Arsenal’s most probable starting lineup versus PSG on Wednesday.
Goalkeeper – Ospina
David Ospina starts in goal. He’s impressed in the Champions League so far this season and will look to continue his good form.
Right Back – Jenkinson
Carl Jenkinson starts at right back in place of the injured Bellerin. Mathieu Debuchy could soon provide Jenkinson competition, as the Frenchman is about two weeks away from contention, according to Wenger.
Center Backs – Mustafi & Koscielny
Shkodran Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny start in central defense. Considering the amount of games the two have played without much rotation this season, expect them to be rotated a bit through the heavy December schedule.
Left Back – Monreal
Nacho Monreal starts at left back. Kieran Gibbs should see some opportunities in the coming weeks as Arsenal’s schedule becomes somewhat clustered.
Defensive Mid – Coquelin
Francis Coquelin appears to have solidified his place as the preferred defensive mid ahead of Xhaka. Coquelin provides better defensive cover but lacks the same passing vision as Xhaka. When paired with a player like Ramsey, or even Xhaka himself, Coquelin’s lack of adventurous passing becomes less of an issue as his defensive capabilities become more valuable.
Central Mid – Ramsey
Ramsey starts next to Coquelin. Ultimately Wenger will have to choose between Xhaka and Ramsey at this position. Mohamed Elneny is better paired with Xhaka because of the Egyptians inconsistencies with passing through the lines, so he isn’t an option.
If Xhaka starts here, that would force Ramsey out wide, but that presents Arsenal with problems up front. Wenger has a tendency to force Ramsey in the lineup, which usually means he plays out of position. That could happen again on Wednesday, but it’s not the right choice.
Attacking Mid – Özil
Mesut Özil starts at the number 10. Özil had a tough time influencing the match this weekend because Arsenal’s midfield was so congested with Ramsey, Elneny, and Coquelin all in the side. Add in the fact that Alexis likes to drop deep, Özil had little space in between the lines to work with. A lineup change should present Özil with more space.
Wide Right – Walcott
Theo Walcott starts on the right. He had trouble getting involved against Manchester United last weekend, but that was due to a lack of service and Arsenal’s overall lack of chemistry with the lineup they played. Walcott’s defensive work rate has been good, which is indicative of his overall attitude towards his performances this season.
Wide Left – Iwobi
Alex Iwobi will be put back into the lineup. Arsenal lacked width and creativity from the left without him as Ramsey constantly moved to the center of the pitch. Arsenal are a better team with Iwobi on the pitch, even if his form has dipped slightly compared to early in the year.
Striker – Giroud
Olivier Giroud cut a frustrated character after scoring Arsenal’s equalizer late in the game on Saturday. You can’t blame him considering he’s scored in 7 of his last 8 shots. The problem is, he’s more valuable on the bench because he provides Wenger on option to change Arsenal’s style of play. With him in the starting lineup, it limits what Wenger can do to make tactical changes.
Considering Alexis is recovering from a hamstring injury that almost kept him out of last weekend’s match, coupled with Giroud’s form, the Frenchman will start and he deserves to, as well.
Via – Lineup Builder