After Arsenal’s excellent performance against Chelsea on Saturday, it’s back to the rigours of Champions League football for the first team in midweek.
Having fought hard to snatch a point away from home at the Parc des Princes last time out, Arsenal will be hoping for a smoother ride against Swiss giants FC Basel: something easier said than done. The Swiss Super League champions have started the season off well, and boast an impressive record against English sides in recent campaigns too.
On current form, you’d seem naive to bet against Arsenal at home but Basel will be equally bullish about their chances of sealing a positive away result from a Gunners side that despite all our quality, still have underlying issues of old in European competition.
In the pre-match press conference, Arsène Wenger has crucially urged the Arsenal side to maintain their high level of intensity against Basel, which is essential if they’re to try and top the Champions League group.
After a morale-boosting victory on the weekend, Wenger has refused to rest on his laurels, saying the following:
“We had a good game on Saturday but let’s show that we can go from good game to good game and put the effort in, in every single game. That’s what it is about.”
He also said that the team has shown signs of maturity, as their performance against Antonio Conte’s Chelsea side was efficient and the plan set out was ultimately followed to good effect.
“The win over Chelsea puts us in a consistent way. We respected the way we want to play and for us to score goals in big games gives us confidence. What pleased me most was the relentless team energy, the fact that we kept going no matter what the result was, and that we respected what we planned together.”
Wenger also revealed the latest team news, with question marks over the fitness of both Francis Coquelin (knee) and Olivier Giroud (toe). He described the former’s injury as a “short-term” one, as the scan was “quite positive”, and the recovery time has been confirmed as a three-week period.
As for Giroud, unavailable for selection after a controversial dismissal against PSG, Wenger said that he is a doubt for the trip to Turf Moor with Sean Dyche’s Burnley side up next this upcoming weekend.
It seems unlikely that the forward will feature from the start, but if he is passed fit, could play a cameo role off the substitutes’ bench.
Possible XI (4-2-3-1): Cech; Bellerín, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Cazorla, Xhaka; Walcott, Perez, Özil; Alexis.
Urs Fischer will be happy with his side’s start to the season, and for good reason too. Nine league matches played, they’ve tallied 27 points with 29 goals scored and a mere seven conceded. Taking that into context, their nearest rivals, Young Boys (as well as two other sides), are level on points with 14, 13 less than the current Super League holders.
They would’ve been underwhelmed with a 1-1 draw against Ludogorets last time out after failing to take advantage of the stalemate between the two best sides in the group, but they’ve still got plenty of time to rectify missed opportunities.
Seydou Doumbia, signed on a season-long loan (option to buy) has already netted six league goals this term and will be hungry for his first start in the Champions League for eleven months – his most recent strike amongst Europe’s elite was against Manchester United last season.
Matías Delgado and Mohamed Elyounoussi are just two of Basel’s danger men to watch out for, whilst it’ll be interesting to see Taulant Xhaka – brother of Granit – face his sibling for the first time since their clash at Euro 2016 for Albania v Switzerland.
Possible XI (4-2-3-1): Vaclík; Traoré, Balanta, Suchy, Lang; Zuffi, Xhaka; Elyounoussi, Steffen, Delgado; Doumbia.