Arsenal are just a few hours away from facing Barcelona and the line-up is set to be announced. Before the game kicks off, I’d like to share how I think we should line-up.
At the end of the day, in a home tie in the Champions League knockout phases, it is important not to concede, or at least concede as little as possible. With that in mind, here’s how I’d set up the team.
Goalkeeper: Petr Cech
Defence: Hector Bellerin, Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal
Bellerin and Monreal are fresh after being rested at the weekend and they’ll need to be at their best for 90 minutes to stop a fearsome Barcelona front three. Arsene Wenger has little choice but to play with Mertesacker alongside Koscielny, which means our defensive line must be fairly deep throughout.
Midfield: Mohammed Elneny/Aaron Ramsey, Francis Coquelin; Aaron Ramsey/Danny Welbeck, Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez
I’d like to see Ramsey on the right hand side, as I feel Bellerin needs some protection. Ramsey on the right also allows for Elneny in the centre, who, alongside Coquelin can form a solid defensive base for the midfield. Ozil and Alexis will be vital in our attempts to score, but it is also important that they do their defensive duties when Barcelona are in possession. Two holding midfielders is essential with a deep defensive line. All five of those midfielders are very energetic and can cover a lot of ground to put pressure on the Barcelona players. If Wenger doesn’t wish to use Elneny, or he feels Welbeck is capable of starting again, then Welbeck could play on the right, allowing Ramsey to play in his favoured central midfield role. This would be another way of giving the team more strength and defensive balance.
If Wenger doesn’t trust Elneny, or feels Welbeck is capable of starting again, then Welbeck could play on the right, allowing Ramsey to play in his favoured central midfield role. This would be another way of giving the team more strength and defensive balance. One or the other please.
Attack: Olivier Giroud
I am tempted to suggest Theo Walcott for this position, but maybe bring him on for the last 30 minutes, or earlier if Giroud is not working well. The benefit of Giroud is that he gives us a huge threat from set pieces, an area where Barcelona struggle.
No matter the eleven that line-up, Arsenal will need to be at their very best for 90 minutes to stand any chance in this game. Barcelona are on a remarkable run and are more than capable of embarrassing us, let’s not let that happen.