Arsenal should rest their big guns against Basel
Match Preview: Basel vs Arsenal – Champions League – 06.12.2016
Arsenal finish their group campaign in their 19th consecutive year in the Champions League with a trip to their visitors from the opening day, Basel. The Gunners will be riding high after their 1-5 victory over West Ham in the Premier League on Saturday, and are already qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League.
For many it is plus ça change for Arsenal in the Champions League as The Gunners are likely to finish second in their group but I think this season is quite different. For once, it’s not really our fault. We did what we had to do in every game bar beating PSG – then again, they didn’t beat us either. Instead Arsenal are fated to finish second again because of a quirk. The head to head rule is designed to encourage teams to play but I think it does the opposite in groups like ours with two giants and two cannon fodder. I much prefer goal difference as goals are the ultimate entertainment in what is an entertainment sport. However, head to head it is and Arsenal will have to settle for second once more.
The only chance Wenger’s men have of finishing top rests entirely with Ludogorets getting something out of PSG. I saw enough in their games against us to know they have the talent to stun PSG but I think the occasion will be too big for them. As such this is precisely the sort of game I would start a weakened team in.
Obviously there would be hell to pay if we played a weakened team and Ludogorets managed to snatch a draw against PSG but I imagine there would be even more at the weekend at Stoke if the team looks lethargic or a key player picks up an injury. As is often the case, Wenger is in a no-win situation, unless of course he plays a young team that pulls a win out of the bag.
Should Arsenal approach this game with the mentality shown since the start of the season, irrespective of who starts, I think this will be a straightforward victory. I just pray to Bergkamp that we don’t play our strongest team for the sake of it.
Opsina; Maitland-Niles, Gabriel, Holding, Gibbs; Elneny, Xhaka; Ramsey; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lucas, Walcott
I expect to see substitute appearances from Iwobi, Giroud and Reine-Adelaide.
“You never know what might be happening in Paris, but we just want to win.” – Arsène Wenger
Last 3 Meetings
This is the second meeting between these two clubs. The Gunners won the first meeting 2-0 in September thanks to Theo Walcott’s brace.
The Swiss club lost for the first time in the Super League this season when the Young Boys beat them 3-1 on Saturday. Having been unbeaten in 16 games they may be reeling a little and a wounded animal should be approached with caution. This team has good experience against English sides having beaten Man United, Chelsea and Liverpool in recent seasons. Basel are expected to name a similar side to the one that started against Young Boys, although their squad will be without Sporar and Boetius. Basel are a tall side and even though their aerial success rate is low Arsenal should be careful of conceding too many set-pieces.
- Arsenal have won all five of their previous competitive encounters with Swiss clubs.
- Basel has only lost twice to English competition in Europe (W4 D5), Arsenal in September and against United in 2002.
- The Gunners have only conceded 1 goal against Swiss clubs in 5 previous fixtures.
- Basel have won their past three Champions League home games against English clubs.
- Arsenal average two goals per game against Swiss sides.
- Basel’s scoring record against Premier League sides in the Champions League ended with an Arsenal clean sheet in September.
- Arsenal have lost three of their past 38 home games in the Champions League group stages, winning 29 and drawing six.
- Basel are winless in their past five Champions League games (D3 L2), scoring just three goals.
- Arsenal have qualified for the Champions League knockout stage for the 17th consecutive season.
- Basel have lost only two of their past eight Champions League home games, those defeats coming against Real Madrid and PSG.
- Arsenal have not been unbeaten in a Champions League group campaign since 2005-06.
- None of Arsenal’s past 40 away games in the Champions League has ended goalless. Their most recent 0-0 was at Slavia Prague in November 2007.
3-1 to Arsenal. Walcott, Giroud and Lucas to score.
Thanks for reading! Please comment on this post, subscribe by email, share with friends and follow me on twitter (@thedanielcowan). Please check out the official NLIR Facebook page http://facebook.com/northlondonisredblog for news, views, freebies and more.
Don’t forget to tune into the funniest Arsenal podcast around “Goonersphere Podcast“
Advertise your business here! Click here for details .