The news that Arsene Wenger is planning to start David Ospina in goal for this afternoon’s FA Cup final against Chelsea only serves to exacerbate Arsenal’s problems in defence.
Laurent Koscielny and Gabriel Paulista will miss the game at Wembley Stadium through suspension and knee ligament damage respectively.
Meanwhile, Shkodran Mustafi isn’t expected to be ready in time as he continues his recovery from a concussion.
It means Arsenal’s team could include Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain at left wing-back in a 3-4-2-1 formation, with Rob Holding, Per Mertesacker and Nacho Monreal starting in a back three.
Mertesacker, 32, made his first appearance of the season in Arsenal’s 3-1 win over Everton last weekend and admitted that he has never played in a back three.
As if Arsenal fans needed any more to be doubtful.
“I have never played in a back three, honestly,” Mertesacker said, per the Daily Mail. “When I was young I started in a back four and that was my position from then on for the last 15 years.
“Everyone starts from zero with that new system. It means small adjustments but what it comes down to is knowing what the others are doing and giving them information that they know what you're doing. Communication is the key in that system, even more.
“It's still a learning curve though for us, the back three, and for those who haven't played that system this season.”
Sanchez and Ozil will need to be on top form
Wenger will need Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil to be on top form at the other end of the pitch, because it doesn’t sound as if his defence will be entirely reliable.
Cech's absence is a blow
Arsenal supporters were left bewildered when rumours began to circulate that Ospina would start over Cech.
The Colombian was used in the Gunners’ Champions League matches, and has played in three of their five FA Cup matches, but was set for a place on the bench against Chelsea.
Cech started in the semi-final win over Manchester City and is some way ahead of Ospina in terms of ability.
Why Cech won't play
But his absence isn’t part of some bizarre plan from Wenger to confuse Antonio Conte. According to The Guardian, Cech suffered an injury in training that will rule him out of the final.
The 35-year-old is reportedly ‘devastated’ at missing out, particularly because Wenger was ready to include him in his starting line-up against his former team.
A great pity.
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