Arsenal have staged a comeback of sorts in the race for the Champions League places as a run of positive results has seen Arsene Wenger’s side climb to third in the Premier League standings, leapfrogging Manchester United. The win over Crystal Palace at the weekend must be a huge confidence boost as they take on a Monaco side playing their first ever Champions League knockout match. Arsene Wenger is no stranger to the French outfit having managed them in the late 80s and early 90s, but on current form, the North London side must fancy their chances against the money bags from France.
Let’s put ourselves in Arsene Wenger’s shoes and predict his starting lineup against AS Monaco.
Goalkeeper – Wojciech Szczesny
The Polish No.1 is back in business in Arsenal’s goal after the smoking controversy and should take his place between the sticks on Wednesday evening.
Defence – Hector Bellerin, Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker, Kieran Gibbs.
Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker are Arsenal’s first choice central defensive partnership and should take their place at the heart of the defence. Mathieu Debuchy is still likely to be out for a month, which means the promising Hector Bellerin should fill in at right back after sitting out against Crystal Palace during the weekend. The attacking threat of Kieran Gibbs down the left flank should give him the nod ahead of Nacho Monreal, who has been impressive this season.
Midfield – Francis Coquelin, Santi Cazorla, Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, Danny Welbeck.
Arsenal have Mikel Arteta and About Diaby still some distance away from making a comeback, and the Monaco game may have just come a little early for Jack Wilshere, who returned to the bench last weekend. This means that the dependable Francis Coquelin should continue to play in the defensive midfield role along side Santi Cazorla.
With Cazorla playing deep in the middle, Mesut Ozil has been deployed in his favourtie No.10 role recently, which has seen the former Real Madrid star’ performance improve aplomb. Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck should occupy the wide positions offering pace, trickery and creativity.
Striker – Olivier Giroud
Arsenal’s target man offers the opportunity to implement a direct style of play when the situation demands. Giroud is excellent in air and at holding the ball up, and complements the playmaking abilities of Arsenal’s attacking midfield threesome.