by Lewis Ambrose
Arsenal are off to Wembley to compete for silverware again on Sunday, and Arsène Wenger will want to get one over José Mourinho.
The game isn’t perceived as the most serious, and is often treated as nothing but a glorified friendly. Nonetheless another trophy – which Arsenal are currently holders of – is on the line and both sides will treat it competitively when on the pitch.
Arsenal’s Petr Čech will start against his former club, that much is pretty much certain.
At the back we expect Wenger to opt for the four players who ended last season as first choice. Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny have been Wenger’s preferred options at centre-half for over two years now, complimenting each other superbly. The places of Héctor Bellerín and Nacho Monreal are less secure with Mathieu Debuchy and Kieran Gibbs providing competition.
The big talking point is likely to be in midfield. As Arsenal are sure to field Mesut Özil as #10 there are only two central midfield spaces left for Francis Coquelin, Aaron Ramsey and Santi Cazorla. The manager seems determined to get Ramsey back into the middle of the park and this game will provide the last chance to partner him with Cazorla, just as he did against Everton in Singapore, before the Premier League season begins. Coquelin provides more bite but, with Chelsea likely to be defensive, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Wenger give the Cazorla-Ramsey partnership a real test.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has had a superb pre-season and is ready to start regularly, expect him to line up on the right with Theo Walcott on the left in the absence of Alexis Sánchez. That leaves the physical Olivier Giroud to lead the line.
That leaves the likes of Jack Wilshere on the bench, and they will probably be joined by the youth of either Jeff Reine-Adelaide or Chuba Akpom.