Wednesday night’s Carabo Cup semi-final is vital for Arsenal’s season. Without the possibility of the FA Cup safety net this season, Wenger must go all out to win the competition. With no game until next Tuesday, Wenger cannot use rest as a reason not to play a top team. This trophy is a must win, and a full strength line up is imperative. So, how will Arsenal line up?
At the weekend, Arsenal returned to a 4-3-3 against Crystal Palace, and blitzed them away in the first 22 minutes. The system worked well against Palace, but it’s like Wenger will return to the more cautious 3-4-2-1 against Chelsea.
Arsenal’s second choice keeper is very underappreciated, and he has been favoured to Petr Cech in the cups. Ospina’s speed and ability to get down low saved Arsenal from a couple of flash efforts from Victor Moses in the first leg, and should guarantee him a start.
The return of Koscielny will be very important to Arsenal, and he showed his class on Saturday after a tough first half of the season. When paired with Mustafi, the pair have done well, offering much more composure than any of Arsenal’s other options. The experienced pair will be vital in ensuring Calum Chambers remains composed, and doesn’t make any rash decisions on a night that could decide Arsenal’s seasons.
In midfield, Aaron Ramsey is likely to return to the starting 11 beside Granit Xhaka, with the pair forming a good understanding before Ramsey’s injury. Ramsey and Xhaka will provide a solid base for Arsenal to operate, and Ramsey’s runs will create space for Lacazette to operate – remember,Lacazette has only scored once in Ramsey’s absence.
Hector Bellerin and Ainsley Maitland Niles are likely to operate in the wing back positions, following Nacho Monreal’s injury on Saturday. Both wing backs are in good form, and their pace will ensure they can match Alonso and Moses defensively, whilst also causing problems in attack.
With Lacazette nailed on to start up front, and Ozil in behind, the only position up for grabs is a right side winger / attacking midfielder. Although Alex Iwobi’s form has greatly improved, Wenger should be looking at Jack Wilshere to fill the role. His link up play with Ozil and Lacazette is much stronger than Iwobi, or Danny Welbeck, and his experience in centre midfield will although him to cover for Aaron Ramsey when he makes runs into the box.
Unfortunately fans will have to wait until the Premier League returns next week before they can catch Mkhitaryan in action, as the Armenia captain has already played in the competition for Manchester United. Hopefully by that time, he will be lining up alongside his old buddy Pierre Emerick Aubamayang!