Arsene Wenger has gone with a very strong Arsenal starting line-up for today´s visit to Crystal Palace in the Premier league, highlighting just how much importance the manager is putting on this game. With some really big games coming up in the Champions League and FA cup, and with the terrible run of injury problems that have beset the Gunners for well over a year, I thought he might have hedged his bets.
I must admit to a bit of surprise, though, in Wenger´s central midfield selection. He has left the fit again Jack Wilshere on the bench and Tomas Rosicky is there with the young England international. Instead the boss has gone with Santi Cazorla alongside Francis Coquelin.
That is a very attacking choice but perhaps a bit risky as well. It also leaves the Spaniard at risk of fatigue or a knock just days before the visit of Monaco. Hopefully we will get a nice first half lead and allow Wenger to bring Jack or Tomas on for the second half.
The rest of the team is pretty much as you would have guessed, with Alexis and Welbeck on either side of Giroud and with Ozil moving back inside to his favourite number 10 role. Gabriel drops to the bench as does Bellerin who has been a doubt with an ankle problem.
Chambers, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal
Alexis, Cazorla, Ozil, Welbeck
subs: Szczesny, Gibbs, Bellerin, Gabriel, Wilshere, Rosicky, Walcott
I am hoping for a really good performance and a thumping win from the Gunners today. How about you?