Arsenal expected 4-2-3-1 v Bayern Munich: Xhaka starts among three changes
By Matt Farr
Arsene Wenger is expected to make three changes to his Arsenal side to face Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Wednesday evening.
The Arsenal boss is expected to welcome back midfielder Granit Xhaka to the side, following his four-game Premier League absence through suspension, while there is also likely to be a place each for David Ospina and Danny Welbeck.
The out-of-sorts Petr Cech, meanwhile, is expected to make way from the starting XI, with Francis Coquelin and Alex Iwobi also dropping out.
Alexis Sanchez is set to lead the line for the Gunners once again, following his brace in the 2-0 win over Hull on Saturday.
Seven other players are expected to retain their places in the side, including Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi, Kieran Gibbs, Hector Bellerin, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott and the under-fire Mesut Ozil.
The first change expected by Wenger is to see deputy stopper Ospina return in place of Cech in goal for Arsenal.
The Colombia international has been Wenger’s first-choice in cup competitions, playing all six of Arsenal group-stage games.
Cech, meanwhile, has also come under criticism for his recent displays, meaning an impressive display for Ospina against Bayern Munich could also see him return in the Premier League in the coming weeks.
Nacho Monreal will no doubt be a player to consider recalling to the line-up, but Wenger is expected to name an unchanged defence from the Hull win.
Gibbs was the man handed the left-back duties at the Emirates last time out, and did little to suggest another change is required.
The Koscielny-Mustafi partnership, meanwhile, will be crucial to Arsenal’s hopes of getting any positive result out of their trip to the Allianz Arena.
The return of Xhaka will be welcome news for Arsenal fans, having missed their last four Premier League games with suspension. Coupled with injuries elsewhere, Wenger has been left short of options in the midfield and Xhaka’s authoritative presence will be a valuable asset against a Bayern side likely to dominate possession.
Wenger will also need pace in his side to hit Bayern on the counter, and that will likely see him stick with the impressive Oxlade-Chamberlain in midfield, as well as bringing in Welbeck on the left-hand side of the attack.
Germany international Ozil is also likely to keep his place, despite the playmaker’s lack of confidence and barren run of form. The 28-year-old has just one goal and one assist in his last eight appearances for the club.
However, Ozil does have the ability to make the difference against Bayern, and he could rediscover that touch if given the backing of the boss and the fans.
If Arsenal can pull out all the stops and come away from Munich with a victory, it will do wonders for their confidence heading into the remainder of the campaign, and give them a strong chance of qualifying for the next round of the competition.
A draw would not be a bad result either for Arsenal, because they will play the second-leg in front of their own fans in March.
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