Arsenal face Manchester City on Sunday in the Carabao Cup final and it’s likely that Arsene Wenger will put out his strongest side possible.
A win for City on Sunday will mean Pep Guardiola gets to lift his first piece of silverware with the club since he joined last season.
It will probably only be their first piece of silverware this season, with the Premier League title looking like a dead-cert at this stage.
Arsenal meanwhile are down in sixth but have enjoyed a solid League Cup run.
Wenger’s men have beaten Doncaster Rovers, Norwich City, West Ham and, more importantly, Chelsea to get to the final and, if they really turn it on, they could win…
They beat City in the FA Cup semi-final last term after all.
If Arsenal are going to beat City – a team who have only lost three times in total this season – Wenger’s going to have to put out the strongest starting XI possible. It’s the only option and hopefully a chance to salvage something from this horror show of a season.
“Because Manchester City are dominating the league, that is in the head of everybody and so maybe we are more underdogs than in the FA Cup semi-final last year,” said Wenger, reports Arsenal.com.
“So I agree that we are maybe underdogs, but we have to believe in our quality. The history, the fact we have done it before [against Man City last year], shows you ‘why not do it again?’.
“You must have enough belief to think you can do it, that on the day you manage to turn up with the right spirit and the right mentality, the right belief.
“In the final, everyone says you have to be motivated, but it is as well about finding the right balance between focus, motivation and being relaxed enough to play our game.
“That will be the target again: to have a belief but as well to find that right balance.”
Fortunately, it seems that Mesut Ozil, who’s been ill, and Aaron Ramsey should both be available for selection.
Wenger says there are no injuries from last night, but that he'll have to make a late decision on Ramsey for Sunday: "He looks to be available, but he’ll have another test today."
— Mattias Karén (@MattiasKaren) February 23, 2018
Ozil: "I see him this morning, he had a good session yesterday and we have to see how he responds to it but I think he will be alright. You want all of your best players available and of course he is important." #AFC
— Mark Mann-Bryans (@MarkyMBryans) February 23, 2018
With this in mind, here’s how I think Arsenal will line up against City:
David Ospina will start in goal against City. Not only is he surprisingly probably the better option over Petr Cech right now but he’s also done well to help Arsenal get this far in the competition. It’s only right that he gets rewarded.
Plus, Arsene Wenger confirmed it during the week.
Wenger also confirms David Ospina will start in goal against Ostersund and Manchester City in Sunday's EFL Cup Final.
— James Olley (@JamesOlley) February 21, 2018
Hector Bellerin will probably play at right-back, Nacho Monreal on the left and both Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi will probably be in the centre of a four-man defence.
Granit Xhaka, Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey will probably start in midfield.
Although Jack wasn’t fantastic against Östersunds FK on Thursday, nobody was, and the 26-year-old tends to turn it on for big matches.
Rambo has been out injured but should return and, since the bloke loves scoring in cup finals at Wembley, it would be stupid not to give him the nod.
Alexandre Lacazette is still recovering from knee surgery, although he probably wouldn’t have started anyway.
Arsenal’s record signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang should get his first start since the Spurs defeat and will hopefully feel as if he has something to prove.
Meanwhile, Mesut Ozil is expected to be available after returning to training from another ‘illness’ this week.
Unfortunately, Henrikh Mkhitaryan is cup-tied so Alex Iwobi will probably step in on the other side of Aubameyang.
4. Line up
4-3-3: Ospina, Bellerin, Kos, Mustafi, Monreal, Xhaka, Wilshere, Ramsey, Ozil, Iwobi, Aubameyang.