COMMENT By Matt Farr
Arsene Wenger should name five changes to his Arsenal side to face Hull in the Premier League on Saturday.
The Gunners boss should axe Petr Cech, Nacho Monreal, Francis Coquelin, Alex Iwobi and Theo Walcott from the starting XI, following the 3-1 defeat to Chelsea last time out.
David Ospina, Kieran Gibbs, Mohamed Elneny, Danny Welbeck and Oliver Giroud must all come in as their replacements.
The six players that should retain their places in the side are Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi, Hector Bellerin, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez.
Veteran goalkeeper Cech was a fantastic purchase for Arsenal in 2015, but his time as the undisputed No.1 at the Emirates may finally have run its’ course.
A series of high-profile errors should see Colombia international Ospina come into the starting line-up for his very first Premier League appearance of the season.
Monreal, meanwhile, should also be axed, after an unconvincing defensive display against Chelsea. The blame can be distributed across the whole team for the manner of their performance, but the 30-year-old was particularly poor, and should be replaced by Gibbs.
Bellerin was a major doubt for the tie after suffering a concussion against the Blues, but he has been showing excellent progress in his recovery and could be available to face Hull. If there is even the slightest chance that Bellerin could be fit, he must play, as playing Gabriel at right-back will present several problems for Arsenal.
Perhaps the biggest culprit last time out was midfielder Coquelin. The Frenchman was utterly obliterated in the middle of the park by Eden Hazard, and while Hull have no ‘Hazard’, they have players capable of posing a similar threat.
Oxlade-Chamberlain was arguably the better of the two players, and therefore, the returning Elneny should replace Coquelin if passed fit.
The inclusion of Welbeck on the left-hand side for Arsenal will give Wenger’s side pace and purpose in the final-third. The England international is hungry for more action after an impressive display against Southampton in the FA Cup last month, but has been limited largely to cameo appearances of late.
Iwobi had a quiet game in the position a week ago, and should make way for the former Manchester United man. With target-man Giroud leading the line, Sanchez drops back out to a wide position.
As for Ozil, the German has done little in recent weeks to justify his continued inclusion in the Arsenal side, but the world-class talent is no doubt hidden in there somewhere, and Wenger will be hoping he can rediscover it against Hull.
With a crunch Champions League knockout-stage clash with Bayern Munich on the horizon, Ozil will need to be firing again.
In other Arsenal news, the Gunners are in a four-horse race to land this £40million-rated star.