So we come to Arsenal’s final Champions League Group game and the team are on their way to Switzerland. There is very little chance of the Gunners topping the group, but Wenger has admitted he will be taking all the same players that travelled to West Ham last week with him, with one exception. “It’s basically the same squad,” Le Prof confirmed. “Coquelin has been replaced by Olivier Giroud in the squad. So, overall, it’s about stability.”
The enforced change is because Francis Coquelin is suspended, and Giroud’s inclusion means that he has recovered from his minor injury, which is good news for the squad.
Although the squad may be the same, I doubt very much if it will be the same starting XI as we look to rest some of our stars ahead of the busy Christmas schedule. But will he go so far as to make 10 changes like he did against Southampton? He may well do, in the hope that the losing players that day can try and regain a bit of confidence. Right now Arsenal are 2.15 favourites in tonight’s Champions League betting but I expect that to change significantly if Wenger does make the changes I am predicting!
We know for sure that Ospina will be in goal, and I can’t see that there is any other choice than Gabriel for right-back and I expect Gibbs to return on the left. The middle is a bit trickier as I think Holding will play, but will he partner Koscielny or Mustafi? I’m going for the German as Koss the Boss should be allowed a rest.
In the absence of Coquelin, I’m guessing Elneny will play beside Ramsey, with Ozil keeping his place as he tries to add to his scoring record in Europe. Up front I think Walcott and Giroud will renew their partnership and Iwobi to return on the left.
So here is my team prediction…
Gabriel Holding Mustafi Gibbs
As to the score? Well at the moment Basel are 12 points clear at the top of the Swiss Super League so will be desperate to stay in Europe. To do so they need to get one more point than Ludgorets tonight to get their place in the Europa League, so they will be fighting for their lives. If Wenger goes for my team then I am expecting Basel to get a draw and will predict 1-1, but if Wenger puts out his very best team then I will say the Gunners will win 2-0 again….
I know it’s a cop out, but if I only knew what Wenger was thinking it would be easier! I will be watching out for the confirmed teams with great interest!