Arsenal face a very tough trip to Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday evening for this season’s first Champions League group match and Arsene Wenger has some serious selection issues to address.
Signal Iduna Park is not the easiest place to go to when you have a defensive dilemma, but the Gunners can take heart from the fact that they secured a priceless 1-0 victory there last season at the same stage of the competition.
Aaron Ramsey was the man to get that goal and he will almost certainly be in the team to take on Jurgen Klopp’s men, though defence has become more of an issue.
Mathieu Debuchy injured ankle ligaments during the 2-2 draw with Manchester City in the Premier League on Saturday and, while Wenger would not put an exact time period for his recovery, reports suggest he could be out until Christmas.
Arsenal’s manager also confirmed that Nacho Monreal will miss the match, while Calum Chambers missed training on Monday but would be fine for the game. All of which leaves the French tactician with very limited options at the back.
Yaya Sanogo will also miss the trip because of a hamstring, while his fellow striker Olivier Giroud is a long-term absentee with a broken leg and will not be seen until next year.
Good news for Wenger is that both Kieran Gibbs and Mikel Arteta should both be ready to go straight into the team after a week of full training.
Poor form worries
However, there are form issues to be addressed; Mesut Özil is undoubtedly one of the Gunners most talented players, but he has failed to hit the heights since returning from Germany’s glorious World Cup campaign in Brazil.
Santi Cazorla did not appear in the match against Manchester City and will be pushing for a start against a Dortmund side that have experienced a mixed start to their Bundesliga campaign.
With all this in mind, here is the GMS predicted Arsenal starting XI for their trip to Dortmund…
Szczesny; Mertesacker, Koscielny, Chambers, Gibbs; Arteta, Wilshere, Ramsey, Cazorla, Sanchez; Welbeck.
As you can see, GMS feel that Wenger will decide to give Özil a rest and leave him on the bench against a side that play at a furious pace and defensive tracking will be crucial.
Danny Welbeck showed signs against City that he could fit into this Arsenal team effectively as a striker and is expected to retain his place, rather than Alexis Sanchez playing through the middle.
Club captain Arteta should replace Mathieu Flamini as the Frenchman looks to have struggled physically in the early part of this season, and the Gunners passing game from deep could do with a boost.
One positive for Wenger is that Dortmund’s two best players in Marco Reus and Mats Hummels are both injured for the match, as well as midfielders Kuba Blaszczykowski and Nuri Sahin.
Although Manchester United flop Shinji Kagawa has looked rejuvenated since returning to his former club this summer and will give Wenger’s side something to think about in what should be an entertaining clash.