Xhaka & Lucas tipped to shine but will Santi be dropped for Elneny?

By Daniel Cowan
In Arsenal
Sep 28th, 2016
1 Comment

Match Preview: Arsenal vs Basel – Champions League – 28.09.2016

Xhaka, Iwobi and Bellerin celebrate with Alexis Sanchez after scoring a goal in the champions league

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.

Predicted Line-up

Opsina; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Elneny, Xhaka; Özil; Alexis, Lucas, Walcott

I expect to see substitute appearances from Iwobi, Gibbs and Cazorla.

Match Quote

“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

Form Guide



Opposition watch

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.

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About "" - 509 Posts

I am a South London born Gooner now living in Leigh-On-Sea, Essex. I'm a husband, daddy, podcaster, trainer enthusiast and aspiring author. My work is my passion and for that I will always be grateful. Here is where I write my thoughts and views on Arsenal Football Club, the greatest team the world has ever seen.

One Response to “Xhaka & Lucas tipped to shine but will Santi be dropped for Elneny?”

  1. E9 Gunner says:

    Elneny should be replacing Cazorla. I wouldn’t say it’s directly down to defensive stability, but it’s just not the right combination.
    We’ve got a lot of people who care about stats too much or how the combination works in Fifa 17.
    But the simple fact is the Cazorla and Xhaka combination is too slow, and when Xhaka came on for Coquelin against Chelsea we weren’t winning the 2nd balls are much and Chelsea were having a little more time on the ball.

    I personally don’t rate Xhaka higher than Cazorla and don’t see him as a direct replacement for Coquelin. Therefore Cazorla-Coquelin partnership is my first choice and Elneny-Xhaka is just as good partnership but my 2nd choice. I reckon long-term the partnership will be Xhaka-Coquelin much to the surprise of many, but it makes a lot of sense to me.

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