Arsenal travel to Italy to face AC Milan at the San Siro in their Europa League clash this week and, after a disappointing 2-1 defeat to Brighton on Sunday, Arsene Wenger’s team selection has to be perfect.
Wenger’s starting 4-3-3 against Milan is likely to be similar to the side that lost 2-1 at home to Östersunds FK on 22 February… which probably won fill Arsenal fans will much hope considering how terribly that XI chose to play.
Milan are enjoying a strong spell after a disastrous start to their Serie A campaign. The Italian side are still seventh in their league but haven’t lost a match in any competition since 23 December. They’ve also not conceded a single goal in six matches.
When you compare that to Arsenal, who are shipping goals for fun, you can understand why some fans are pessimistic over the tie. Myself included.
Alexandre Lacazette is still sidelined after undergoing knee surgery following the Spurs defeat last month, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is ineligible to feature after playing for Dortmund in the Champions League already this term, and Santi Cazorla is out with his long-term Achilles problem.
Nacho Monreal is still expected to be out of action with an inflamed back, which he suffered against Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final.
Hector Bellerin, who only came on for the final seven minutes against Brighton, reportedly hasn’t traveled to Italy as he’s suffering from an ongoing knee injury.
Therefore, it doesn’t really feel like Wenger has much choice when it comes to his Milan line-up.
Brilliant goal from Ostersunds pic.twitter.com/6F2VGIWtkT
— Ikey (@PochTheMagician) February 22, 2018
David Ospina is Arsenal’s ‘cup’ goalkeeper so he’ll get the nod ahead of Petr Cech against Milan.
Both shot-stoppers seem to be as poor as each other at the moment, so I doubt Gooners really care… and that’s not something I ever thought I’d say about Petr Cech.
Although Wenger opted for Rob Holding and Calum Chambers at centre-back against Östersunds FK, against a team like Milan, I expect he’ll start his ‘strongest’ central pairing of Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi.
Plus, it seems like Chambers may need to start at right-back.
Bellerin has been ruled out. According to the Mirror, the 22-year-old is sidelined with a knee injury, which he’s been playing with for a few games.
With Nacho Monreal still out with his back problem, the boss will have no choice but to stick Kolasinac on the left of the four-man defence.
With Aaron Ramsey presumably fit and available, the Welshman will probably start alongside Granit Xhaka and Jack Wilshere in midfield.
For all his faults, Xhaka wasn’t that bad against Brighton and, although Wilshere was pretty sloppy, I don’t see Wenger benching him.
The 26-year-old has that ‘pashun’ that people seem to love so even when he doesn’t play well, he can just fight Arsenal into the next Europa League round.
With Aubameyang ineligible and Lacazette recovering from knee surgery, Arsenal are pretty limited up front.
I’m afraid this means we’ll probably see Welbeck in the middle again, with Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan either side of him.