After a disappointing and damaging weekend in the Premier League, attention at Arsenal returns to Europe this midweek.
Croatian champions Dinamo Zagreb visit north London for Tuesday night’s game, having already beaten the Gunners once this season. With a trip to Olympiacos to come, Arsenal know three points are absolutely necessary on Tuesday evening in order to keep our hopes of qualifying for the knockout rounds alive.
With injuries mounting, can we manage it?
As well as ruling himself out of the running for the Real Madrid job (still held by Rafa Benitez at the time of writing), Arsène Wenger backed his team to respond to the disappointment against West Brom in Monday afternoon’s press conference.
Prior to the international break the team drew with Spurs and lost to Bayern Munich, but the boss has faith in them to turn it around before long.
“In the last two games we have dropped points,” he said on Monday. “We know as well that before that we won five games on the trot and you can go through a spell like that – it is how you respond to that and that is what makes your season.”
The boss on the Champions League: “The players like to compete at the top. We have the ability in the squad to do that.” #AFCvZAG
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) November 23, 2015
A response is needed to a number of disappointments right now, with pressure on to get good results in our last Champions League group stage home game before responding in the Premier League despite injury concerns.
The Arsenal midfield looks a little thin after both Francis Coquelin and Mikel Arteta picked up injuries at the weekend. Thankfully Aaron Ramsey is back, though the manager doesn’t know if he will be ready to start.
Without Coquelin, Mathieu Flamini is likely to come into the midfield. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott are still out. Wenger’s biggest decision will have to be whether or not Aaron Ramsey is fit to start to the game. On such a big evening he may take a risk, but he can’t afford to lose another midfielder.
Possible XI: Čech; Bellerín, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Flamini, Cazorla; Ramsey, Özil, Alexis; Giroud.
A run of 45 games unbeaten was ended by Bayern Munich earlier on in the competition, and it may have rocked Dinamo. Since the 5-0 defeat at the Allianz Arena, they’ve lost two more Champions League games (both to Olympiacos) as well as two of the six league games they’ve played in the meantime.
Goals from a counter-attack and a corner were enough to see of Arsenal back in September, so you’d expect their gameplan to remain the same.
Possible XI: Eduardo; Matel, Taravel, Sigali, Musa; Antolic, Rog; Pjaca, Machado, Fernandes; Hodzic.
Now or never
With three points from four games, Arsenal are looking at going out in the group stage but all is not lost.
Both Champions League performances against ‘lesser’ sides have been unacceptable so far this season, but we are lucky enough to still have a chance to put it right. Whether or not we take it remains to be seen.
Come on you Gunners!