Xhaka & Lucas tipped to shine but will Santi be dropped for Elneny?
Match Preview: Arsenal vs Basel – Champions League – 28.09.2016
Arsenal kick off their home campaign in their 19th consecutive year in the Champions League with the visit of Basel. The Gunners will be riding high after their 3-0 victory over Chelsea in the Premier League on Saturday, yet it is precisely because of this result I view tonight’s match with some trepidation.
Perhaps Arsenal have Arsenal-ed things up once too often for me to feel too cocky about this match. The Gunners have taken result in such matches for granted in the past and however professional they were against Nottingham Forest I’ll need to see one of those performances in every competition to zealously believe we can be winners once more.
Olivier Giroud and Francis Coquelin will be unavailable as the France forward is suspended after his red card in the draw with Paris Saint-Germain, while Santi’s partner in crime picked up a knee injury at the weekend. How wonderful it is to have a player of Xhaka’s quality to fill the void and perhaps the stars aligned to ensure the ex-Basel man would start tonight against both his first professional club and his brother, who plays for the Swiss side.
The introduction of Xhaka is the only forced change however David Ospina, who seems preferred to Cech in Europe, is likely to start between the sticks. With Arsenal well poised to take top spot for once I think Wenger will partner Xhaka with Elneny tonight instead of Santi Cazorla for the defensive security. Granit has shown his excellent vision and passing ability so I don’t think we’ll be bereft of creativity without our diminutive Spanish wizard and Elneny has proven himself a tidy passer too. Lucas Pérez could feature also and if he does I’ll back him to follow up his brace against Nottingham Forest with a goal here.
It will be interesting to see Xhaka and Elneny together as they are both considered defensive minded box-to-box players by the manager and could give us a little insight into how Ramshaka could operate.
Should Arsenal approach this game with the mentality shown in their past three matches, where they scored 11 goals, then I think this will be a straightforward victory.
Opsina; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Elneny, Xhaka; Özil; Alexis, Lucas, Walcott
I expect to see substitute appearances from Iwobi, Gibbs and Cazorla.
“Our game is about style and steel, and we combined both [against Chelsea]. That was pleasing. Every time it’s a new challenge but I believe the humility is to accept that you have to start from scratch again and put in another performance.” – Arsène Wenger
Last 3 Meetings
This is the first meeting between these two clubs
The Swiss club are unbeaten in 12 games in all competitions and drew 1-1 with Ludogorets in their opening Champions League match and have 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 Ludogorets, although they will be without defender Manuel Akanji and midfielder Kevin Bua. 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 four of their previous competitive encounters with Swiss clubs.
- Basel has only lost once to English competition in Europe (W4 D5), against United in 2002.
- The Gunners have only conceded 1 goal against Swiss clubs in 4 previous fixtures.
- In 10 Champions League games against Premier League teams Basel has never failed to score.
- Arsenal average two goals per game against Swiss sides.
- 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 for the 19th consecutive season, only Real Madrid (20) can boast a longer current streak.
3-0 to Arsenal. Walcott, Alexis 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 .