Arsenal face Basel in the sixth round of matches of the Champions League group stage. In the reverse match in September at the Emirates Stadium, the Gunners came out 2-0 winners thanks to a Theo Walcott brace.
Arsenal are guaranteed qualifiers from the group and have a small chance of finishing first if results go their way. A PSG draw or loss against Ludogorets Razgard coupled with an Arsenal win would see the London side finish top of the group. The odds are against Arsenal, though, as PSG are heavy favorites, and the Gunners will have to be content with yet another 2nd place finish in their Champions League Group and the potential of a difficult round of 16 matchup.
Considering Arsenal have already qualified, and the odds of them finishing their group are slim, Arsene Wenger is likely to heavily rotate his squad. We’ll see an entirely new back four from this weekend that may include Ainsley Maitland-Niles at right back. Alex Iwobi could come into the side, as could Aaron Ramsey and Lucas Perez.
Here is Arsenal’s probable starting lineup on Tuesday.
Goalkeeper – Ospina
David Ospina starts in goal as he has done throughout Arsenal’s European campaign.
Right Back – Maitland-Niles
Maitland-Niles starts at right back. Hector Bellerin is out for another week or two weeks meaning Wenger’s choice is between Gabriel, Carl Jenkinson, and Maitland-Niles.
Gabriel moves to center back and Jenkinson is bereft of confidence – Wenger previously stated he’d keep Jenkinson out of the squad for the time being to protect the player, allowing him to rebuild confidence, and regain fitness after just recovering from a significant knee injury while on loan with West Ham last season.
That leaves Maitland-Niles as the next man up. The youngster is predominantly a central midfield but has featured at right back a few times for the senior squad. In those few appearances, he’s performed well, and his encouraging performances may mean he has a future at right back.
Center Backs – Gabriel & Holding
Gabriel and Rob Holding start in central defense. Gabriel has been playing at right back but moves to his natural position at center back. Holding has shown immense potential in the few appearances he’s made this year. Tuesday night is another opportunity for Holding to gain valuable first team experience.
Left Back – Gibbs
Kieran Gibbs comes into the side in place of Nacho Monreal. He is likely to captain the squad in the absence of Laurent Koscielny and Petr Cech.
Defensive Mid – Elneny
Mohamed Elneny starts at defensive mid where he’ll partner Granit Xhaka. The Egyptian international recently recovered from illness and should be raring to go against his former club.
Central Mid – Xhaka
Xhaka has performed well since establishing himself as a starter the past few weeks. He keeps Arsenal ticking by moving the ball between the lines, picking out long runs behind the defense, and completing his defensive duties well. Xhaka is now an integral part of the starting lineup – especially with Santi Cazorla out for three months – and a run in the squad won’t do him any harm, even if this match is meaningless.
Attacking Mid – Ramsey
Ramsey takes over the number 10 role from Mesut Özil. Ramsey was poor in this position against Southampton last Wednesday in the EFL Cup but has done well here in previous seasons – especially while playing for Wales. This is an opportunity for the Welshman to stake a claim for a starting spot in the squad, as he’s become more of a bench player the past week whilst making his return from a somewhat serious hamstring injury earlier in the year.
Wide Right – Oxlade-Chamberlain
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain starts on the right wing. He was exceptional on Saturday in Arsenal’s 5-1 win and scored his teams fourth with a delightful curling strike from outside the box.
His performances are improving recently and he’s playing with confidence. When Oxlade-Chamberlain comfortably takes on players and doesn’t over think his move, he’s at his best. His decision-making could still improve, but he’s young and the improvements we’re seeing are encouraging.
Taking him out of the squad at this point seems odd and a run in the squad would provide him the platform to build on his improvements.
Wide Left – Iwobi
Alex Iwobi starts on the left. He was good last Wednesday, proving to be Arsenal’s only real creative threat. Wenger has kept him out of the squad more frequently this past month, but he’s done well when called upon.
Striker – Perez
Lucas Perez makes his second start since returning from an ankle injury. The Spaniard is still gaining fitness but should see more chances with the schedule becoming dense the next two months.
Olivier Giroud will likely be on the bench after just missing out of this weekend’s match with an injury. Alexis will be rested but could find a place on the bench.
Via – Lineup Builder