Arsenal go into their game on Sunday against Southampton knowing that there is little to play for in this match.
Although the club will never admit it, Arsenal’s remaining league games are all dead rubbers with finishing above Burnley, who are as far behind the Gunners as Arsenal are behind Chelsea, the main aim.
Fifth might be a possibility if Chelsea implode, but fourth is well out of reach. Arsenal would need to claw back 13 points on Tottenham to draw level and, even then, they’d lose out as the Lillywhites have a goal difference twice that of their north London rivals.
Going into this game we know that we will see a number of changes with one eye on the trip to Russia. Although Arsenal pretty much killed the tie in the first leg, the potential to Arsenal things up in Moscow is always there and Wenger will not want to take any chances with his lineup on Thursday.
In goal against Southampton, Petr Cech will start. He wasn’t taxed at all against CSKA so will not need a rest and, with David Ospina out for a few weeks with an ankle injury, the choice is Cech or Matt Macey. Wenger could give the youngster a run-out with so little at stake, but it seems unlikely the 23-year-old will get his Premier League debut.
In front of him, we should see some changes.
Laurent Koscielny has been struggling with a back problem in addition to his ongoing Achilles issue, so a rest for him seems likely. With Calum Chambers and Rob Holding both keen for minutes, we could see the pair come in for Kos and Shkodran Mustafi.
Flanking them, Wenger has little choice but to stick with Hector Bellerin on the right. He might have turned to Ainsley Maitland-Niles, but he has picked up a secret injury and has been vanished from the squad.
Ahead of this weekend’s game, Wenger said he could be back on Thursday. This was the first time it was mentioned that AMN had a problem. He hasn’t been in the squad for the last two games.
Nacho Monreal can have a rest with Sead Kolasinac coming in.
In midfield, we will no doubt see Mohamed Elneny come back into the side but whether he replaces Jack Wilshere or Aaron Ramsey is hard to say. The latter could do with a rest given how crucial he is to the side and how we will already be without Henrikh Mkhitaryan for Thursday. Jack, however, has done little to warrant remaining in the side lately so should keep his place for this game that means nothing.
Granit Xhaka will also start because he always starts. As will Mesut Ozil.
Alex Iwobi will also come back into the squad, taking Mkhitaryan’s place as the Armenian recovers from the knee injury picked up against CSKA.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will also get a start, cup-tied as he is for the Europa League quarter final second leg.
Final predicted starting XI:
Cech; Bellerin, Chambers, Holding, Kolasinac; Xhaka, Elneny, Wilshere; Ozil, Iwobi; Aubameyang