Home Football With So Many Injuries, How Might Arsenal Line Up Against Ludogorets?

With So Many Injuries, How Might Arsenal Line Up Against Ludogorets?

Arsenal face Ludogorets in the Champions League on Tuesday knowing that a win will likely see them progress to the knockout stages with two games to spare.

Somewhat uncharacteristically, it has been relatively smooth sailing for Arsenal’s side and a 1-1 draw in their opening game in Paris means that they are favourites to top a Champions League group for the first time since the 2011/12 season.

They have a few injury concerns going into that match, traveling to Bulgaria without Theo Walcott, Nacho Monreal, Santi Cazorla and Héctor Bellerín in addition to longer-term absentees Lucas Pérez, Per Mertesacker, Chuba Akpom and Danny Welbeck.

However, the Gunners defeated Ludogorets in a comprehensive scoreline in the reverse fixture at the Emirates, and will be confident of getting the win even without some of their regular starters.

With that in mind, and with a massive north London derby against Premier League title rivals Tottenam to come on Sunday, does Wenger play his best possible team or does he rotate?

Possible Arsenal XI To Play Ludogorets

Goalkeeper:

David Ospina

Arsenal's Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina looks on during the UEFA Champions League Group A football match between Arsenal and FC Basel at The Emirates Stadium in London on September 28, 2016. / AFP / Adrian DENNIS (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Ospina has started in all three of Arsenal’s Champions League games this season so far. Indeed, Wenger has already stated that the Colombian international is his first choice goalkeeper in Europe so there is no reason for that to change on Tuesday.

Defenders:

Right-Back: Carl Jenkinson

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 25: Carl Jenkinson of Arsenal during the EFL Cup fourth round match between Arsenal and Reading at Emirates Stadium on October 25, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images)

Centre-Back: Shkodran Mustafi

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 19: Shkodran Mustafi of Arsenal holds off pressure from Wanderson of Ludogorets Razgrad during the UEFA Champions League group A match between Arsenal FC and PFC Ludogorets Razgrad at the Emirates Stadium on October 19, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Centre-Back: Laurent Koscielny

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 22: Laurent Koscielny of Arsenal (L) and Adama Traore of Middlesbrough (R) battle for possession during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Middlesbrough at Emirates Stadium on October 22, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Left-Back: Kieran Gibbs

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 19: Anicent Abel of Ludogorets Razgrad holds off pressure from Kieran Gibbs of Arsenal during the UEFA Champions League group A match between Arsenal FC and PFC Ludogorets Razgrad at the Emirates Stadium on October 19, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Wenger has confirmed that Carl Jenkinson is in the squad, but would not be drawn on who would replace Bellerín for the game. However, even though Ainsley Maitland-Niles could yet get the nod, the greater likelihood is that Jenkinson plays his first Champions League match in three years.

At centre-back, Rob Holding and Gabriel Paulista are options but Arsenal are likely to start their first-choice pairing of Mustafi and Koscielny.

There are no such luxuries at left-back, where Kieran Gibbs is the only option to replace Monreal, though his performance against Sunderland at the weekend will have calmed any nerves at least.

Midfielders:

Centre Midfield: Granit Xhaka

ST ALBANS, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 31: Granit Xhaka of Arsenal before a training session at London Colney on October 31, 2016 in St Albans, England. (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Centre Midfield: Francis Coquelin

during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Middlesbrough at Emirates Stadium on October 22, 2016 in London, England.

Attacking Midfield/Number Ten: Mesut Özil

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 19: Mesut Ozil of Arsenal during the UEFA Champions League match between Arsenal FC and PFC Ludogorets Razgrad at Emirates Stadium on October 19, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images)

As is the case with the defence, Arsenal have a number of options available to the them – however thy are also likely to put out the best possible combination. To that end, Xhaka, suspended for the 4-1 win at Sunderland on Saturday, will probably come in for Mohamed Elneny (who himself replaced Cazorla) with Aaron Ramsey once again having to settle for a place on the bench.

Forwards:

Right Wing: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 22: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain of Arsenal in action during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Middlesbrough at The Emirates Stadium on October 22, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Left Wing: Alex Iwobi

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 29: Arsenal player Alex Iwobi in action during the Premier League match between Sunderland and Arsenal at Stadium of Light on October 29, 2016 in Sunderland, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Striker: Olivier Giroud

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 29: Olivier Giroud of Arsenal celebrates scoring his team's third goal during the Premier League match between Sunderland and Arsenal at the Stadium of Light on October 29, 2016 in Sunderland, England. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Olivier Giroud’s two-goal cameo against Sunderland last weekend looks to have propelled him to the starting eleven against Ludogorets, even if that may not be the plan long-term. The Guardian seem pretty confident that the French international is starting, though what that means for Alexis Sánchez remains to be seen.

The likelihood is that Alexis will be given a rest, though if he is moved back to the wing then the player most in danger is Alex Iwobi. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is in good form recently and Wenger will surely not want to disrupt that unnecessarily so Iwobi, who has not been playing brilliantly in the last few matches, may be given a breather.

That being said, expect a front three of Iwobi, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Giroud to lead the line.

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