In a week where many Arsenal fans will actually be hoping Spurs can grab a win, it’s absolutely vital that the Gunners manage their rotation properly.
Following the edgy 1-0 win over West Brom on Boxing Day many of us are hoping 2017 can get off to a better start, as we welcome relegation-bound Crystal Palace to the Emirates.
The Gunners need to rebuild on their fine league form before those back-to-back losses, and can only do so by ensuring the fittest starting XI are made available for each game.
Goalkeeper: Petr Cech
Whilst it may not come as much of a surprise, Cech needs to watch his back now that the FA Cup and Champions League beckons. Ospina will be given much more game time now and if he carries on the way he has then he isn’t a million miles away from being out No.1 shot-stopper.
Full-Backs: Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal
Again, there’s not much Wenger can do about these positions because Gibbs is injured and nobody is going to start ahead of Bellerin. Monreal needs to up his game when it comes to defending, he’ll have his work cut out against the interchanging wingers of Townsend and Zaha who love to go down in the box when given half the chance.
Centre Backs: Gabriel and Laurent Koscielny
Don’t get me wrong I’m just as excited as you are to welcome back Mustafi, but I think Wenger should take precaution and throw him in for the away trip to Bournemouth on Tuesday. These two had next to nothing to defend against West Brom so they should be fully fit for this weekend. Gabriel won’t be happy for Mustafi to just stroll back into the side so expect a big performance from him.
Centre Defensive Midfield: Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey
We saw a good spell of this partnership just before Rambo picked up that toe injury and following Coquelin’s performance in the final third I think it’s wise to get the Welshman back in. We didn’t need a holding midfielder against West Brom and it’ll be much of the same for Palace, who will be wary of conceding goals from the first whistle. I can’t fault Xhaka in the last few weeks, and having shown he can play alongside Coquelin, that means he can play with any of our midfielders.
Right Wing: Lucas Perez
I’ll be honest, I just really want to see Lucas start in the Premier League now because he looks as if he’s got so much to offer. With Walcott and The Ox on the sidelines it really does provide the Spaniard with a chance to show Wenger what he can do. He’ll have the Emirates crowd right behind him and if things aren’t working, he can swap with Alexis or Iwobi.
Centre Attacking Midfield: Mesut Ozil
Not much to say here really is there. Ozil provided another expert assist to get Arsenal the winner last time out and it’s those moments of magic that we need to take into 2017.
Left Wing: Alexis Sanchez
A position that he thrives in, and against West Brom he seemed to end up playing in every single area of our attacking third, so it really is a chance for him to run at defenders once more. Shifting Alexis back to the wing will cause this nervy defence all sorts of problems.
Centre Forward: Olivier Giroud
Showed against West Brom that he’s just as important as Ozil and Alexis when it comes to scoring goals that change games. When Walcott and Ox return it’ll give Wenger much more depth on the wings so until then it’s all about getting the most out of Giroud. Be patient with him.
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