Arsene Wenger could still have a surprise or two up his sleeve for us when he puts in the Arsenal team sheet for the Champions League match against Barcelona this evening, but I think that the team he picked for the FA cup clash with Hull City on Saturday as well as the Arsenal injury list makes it fairly easy to guess most of the players that will start against the Spanish champions.
Poor old Arsene Wenger just cannot seem to catch a break. If it is not a referee like Mike Dean denying Arsenal two good penalty shouts and forcing us into an FA cup replay that we could really do without, it is a Champions League draw throwing us up against one of the big favourites Bayern Munich in the group stage and then the only team worse than the Germans in the knockout stage.
I am not saying that Arsenal have not got an extremely tough game ahead of us when Luis Enrique brings his treble winning Barcelona side to north London on Tuesday. They are not the holders of La Liga, the Copa Del Rey and the Champions League for no reason and they were finally able to register a couple of new players in January after their transfer embargo was lifted.
I do want to have too much of a go at the Arsenal and Chile international star, but there is no getting around the fact that apart from his comeback as a sub in the 4th round of the FA cup, Alexis Sanchez has been well below the standard that we are used to since returning from his injury lay-off.
It was one of the defining moments in the early football career of the Arsenal and England international midfielder Jack Wilshere, so it would be a fitting time for the unlucky star to return from his latest injury problem if he could make it back in time for the second leg of our Champions League knockout tie with Barcelona.
With two massive cup games coming up for Arsenal in the space of three days, starting with Hull City in the FA cup on Saturday, the last thing Arsene Wenger needed was more problems to deal with, so the loss of two potential centre backs in Laurent Koscielny and Gabriel to injury last weekend was a serious concern for Arsenal fans and a big headache for the boss.
I get the reason for Arsene Wenger bringing up the last time Arsenal faced our Champions League opponents Barcelona at the Emirates Stadium, as we did beat them 2-1 despite being under the cosh for a lot of the match. I’m sure the boss would take that again when Luis Enrique and his treble winning side turn up in north London next Tuesday.
Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal players are well aware that there is still a long way to go as we chase the Premier League title this season, despite all the pretend outrage from the football media after the players had the temerity to take a happy looking team photo in the dressing room after beating Leicester with a last second winner.