After a much-needed win over relegation-threatened Middlesbrough on Monday night, Arsenal head to Wembley to take on Manchester City in the semi-finals of the FA Cup. Following Arsene Wenger’s surprising tactical change of going with a 3-4-2-1 formation, it will be interesting to see how the Frenchman approaches this one. Personally, I would stick with the new system and here’s how I would go about it.
Starting from the back, I’d more or less stick with the same backline, with the exception of bringing in Kieran Gibbs in place of Nacho Monreal. The Spaniard simply does not seem to have the legs as we saw in the game against Boro and I feel Kieran would be better suited to play at wing-back as pace will be crucial in dealing with the likes of Sane and De Bruyne. Koscielny, Holding, Gabriel and Oxlade-Chamberlain in particular all had good games on Monday night and I believe they should all keep their place for Sunday’s big clash.
Moving to the midfield, I’d stick with Xhaka and Ramsey. The Welshman made a crucial assist, worked hard for the team and really played the role of a box-to-box midfielder against Boro and should be given a start. As for Xhaka, he did his job as well and ran his socks off in a game where he really had to prove himself and displayed good skill to win the freekick that Sanchez tucked away. With his confidence growing, I believe he should keep his place
Moving to the forwards, there can be no arguments that it should be the Gunners’ star duo, Ozil and Sanchez, who should behind the striker. With Manchester City not having the best of defences either, it makes sense to give our two best players the creative freedom to float around in the opposition’s final third and create chances. But with respect to the striker, I believe Danny Welbeck, who returned to training, should take the place of Olivier Giroud.
While the Frenchman did have a decent game at the Riverside, I believe Welbeck will be more of a threat against the City defence. The Englishman can make runs down the flanks, catch on to quick through balls and would be better suited to play on the counter attack, which we may have to do against a team like Manchester City. So overall, I’d make just two changes to the side that ended our ‘away jinx’ on Monday night, with Gibbs and Welbeck coming in for Monreal and Giroud respectively.
My Arsenal XI: Cech; Koscielny, Holding, Gabriel, Gibbs; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Xhaka, Ramsey, Gibbs; Ozil, Sanchez; Welbeck.
Who would you pick?