As the curtains are finally drawn on another Premier League campaign, Arsenal’s preparations are in full swing ahead of this weekends FA Cup final showdown with Aston Villa.
Arsene Wenger announced on Wednesday morning that his squad suffered no fresh injuries from the 4-1 victory over West Brom, which has left manager Arsene Wenger suffering a selection headache for all the right reasons.
Does Sczcesny deserve to carry on playing in the FA Cup? Will Debuchy’s return from injury shut out Bellerin? And has Wilshere’s late revival of form forced Wenger to think twice? Whatever the question, it seems pretty much everyone has their own reasoning as to who should get the nod.
Fresh Arsenal’s Curtis Goff has stripped back the season and given one example of how the boys will line up come 5.30pm on Saturday.
Goalkeeper – David Ospina
A hotly anticipated position which will finally be confirmed on Saturday, but when it comes down to the season Ospina has had, I don’t think there can be many arguments. Szczesny has never filled me with confidence when being reinstated for the FA Cup, and we all know that, especially in a final, anything can happen.
Right-Back: Hector Bellerin
Many people would give the nod to Debuchy since Wenger confirmed the Frenchman would be fit to play. But personally, I feel Bellerin has earned the right to play in the final. He’s come into a side as our third choice right-back and filled some very big boots that were left by Bacary Sagna.
Centre-Back: Per Mertesacker (c)
No complaints here. The vice-captain has led from the back throughout the season, and although he may have his weaknesses, just the presence of the BFG will help to lift the team if we are to go 1-0 down. Gabriel will be ready on the bench if Arsenal need to play the high line, but I’m confident Mertesacker can cope with the in-form Christian Benteke.
Centre-Back: Laurent Koscielny
It seemed Wenger was resting Koscielny whilst we beat West Brom 4-1 and for very good reason. After recovering from a mild flu, the Frenchman will be back in contention. The Gunners have conceded just 36 goals in the Premier League this season, and we have this defensive partnership to thank.
Left-Back: Nacho Monreal
Again, I think Monreal was given a rest at the weekend and for good reason. The Spaniard has been a workforce down the left hand side this season and a strong contender for a most improved award. Monreal’s increase in form has been a result of the additional matches rewarded to him for having to play centre back for the opening weeks of the season.
Centre-Defensive Midfield: Francis Coquelin
The man that we have to thank just as much as the goalscorers for getting us to the final. I can’t remember a game where I’ve looked at Coquelin and thought he was struggling, the man has simply been a brick wall and will be vital in chopping down the agile runs of Jack Grealish and Fabian Delph. He was brought off early against West Brom to avoid any injury so he will definitely start.
Centre-Defensive Midfield: Santi Cazorla
Obviously we won’t expect Santi to sit in the defensive position for too long, but this is where he’s lined up for the second half of the season and has created a lovely partnership with Coquelin. Santi recently topped the charts for assists in the Premier League since his arrival, and he’ll love to take advantage of his consistent form come Saturday afternoon.
Right-Wing: Aaron Ramsey
This is where we get to the tougher decisions, and it really could have come down to the flip of a coin over who gets the nod out on the right. Jack Wilshere looked in sublime form against West Brom but I think Rambo will control the game better from the start. Wilshere has had a spring in his step since his return and I’d love to see him come on around 65 minutes.
Centre-Attacking Midfield: Mesut Ozil
The German maestro has been in sublime form since his return from injury, with six assists and five goals to his name. Ozil will most frequently come up against Tom Cleverley and Ron Vlarr at the weekend and it will surely be a case of outwitting the defensive players.
Left-Wing: Alexis Sanchez
I’m running out of ways to describe this man, but after his brace in the semi-final he had to be the first name on the team sheet. Alexis recently scooped the PFA Fans’ Player of the Year award and what better way to thank the Gunners faithful than scoring the winner?
Striker: Theo Walcott
The toughest decision I had to make, and again I think it will come down to the day for Wenger to decide on the man leading his attacks. I’m not just putting this decision down to what we saw against West Brom, but I feel Walcott can give us the drive to start the game positively, and then the rest is in our hands. Give him 60-70 minutes out there to grab the lead and then we can introduce Giroud to control the play. The Frenchman has failed to find the net since April 4th whereas Walcott is keen to show the boss what he can do following his hat-trick at the weekend.
Don’t agree with this starting eleven? Get involved by commenting on who you think deserves a place in this seasons final.