It’s the day every Arsenal has awaited for some time, for it’s Arsenal’s only big day of the season, and whatever hope of resurrection there is, rests solely on this one tie at the moment: Arsenal vs Manchester City at Wembley.
Arsenal have had their fair share of great Wembley moments in the past. A statistical look shows they haven’t lost at the venue in their last six appearances, winning the FA Cup as well as the Community Shield twice during that time.
Now, can they do it again? A lot will depend on the way Arsenal line-up and what tactical changes (if any) does Arsene Wenger have to offer. Here’s our predicted XI, and yes, we certainly don’t think it’ll be a 3-4-2-1 again.
GK: Petr Cech
Petr Cech made a few good saves in the last game, proving his worth to the team yet again. Arsenal will look to him for his experience of the big occasion and help organise the back four. Arsenal have been shaky at the back over the last few months, thus Cech’s experience is going to be essential today.
RB: Hector Bellerin
Hector Bellerin badly needs a good performance, and this has to be his day. He has already fired up a few Arsenal fans following a disastrous trim anyway. Better be good, Hector, for all our sakes.
CB: Laurent Koscielny
Laurent Koscielny wasn’t at the peak of his powers on his return against Middlesbrough, though he did well. No doubt about who is the key man at the back. With either the potent attacking talent of Aguero or Gabriel Jesus, the Frenchman will need to be at his best.
CB: Gabriel Paulista
Ideally, one would want to have Rob Holding partnering Koscielny for obvious reasons, but Arsene Wenger has never been one to go fancy on the big day. Gabriel was impressive against City a few weeks ago, so let’s hope he repilcate that same form this afternoon.
LB: Nacho Monreal
Didn’t have the best of times the last time he faced Manchester City. Nacho Monreal has had a lot of shockers this season against teams that have been physical – he can’t afford any more of the same, not today.
CM: Granit Xhaka
Looked a lot more like his original self against Middlesbrough with Aaron Ramsey alongside, reiterating that it’s not him, it’s ones that play with him who are responsible for his poor performances. He’ll have a major role to play in keeping the rhythm in Arsenal’s midfield.
CM: Aaron Ramsey
Another player who returned to form, thanks to a change in formation and the presence of Xhaka. The Welshman must now channel his inner “Wembley Ramsey” to book Arsenal’s ticket into the final.
RW: Theo Walcott
Seems to have a penchant for scoring against Manchester City. Arsenal would love him to do more of the same. Against Clichy, Walcott’s pace in behind could be a huge asset to Arsenal, especially in tandem with Hector Bellerin.
CAM: Mesut Ozil
Having scored the winner in his recent game, the German is high on confidence and raring to go. Arsenal need their mercurial number 10 to be at his best and find the pockets of space in behind the City defence.
LW: Alexis Sanchez
This is Alexis Sanchez’s biggest day of the season, so it’s only fitting to bring out his best and win the game for Arsenal. In big games, teams need their stars to stand up, now’s the time for the Chilean.
ST: Olivier Giroud
Danny Welbeck is out of touch, Alexis won’t play up top, so Olivier Giroud is the only option left. Wenger loves a bit of Giroud anyway.
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