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
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.
Right-Back: Carl Jenkinson
Centre-Back: Shkodran Mustafi
Centre-Back: Laurent Koscielny
Left-Back: Kieran Gibbs
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.
Centre Midfield: Granit Xhaka
Centre Midfield: Francis Coquelin
Attacking Midfield/Number Ten: Mesut Özil
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.
Right Wing: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Left Wing: Alex Iwobi
Striker: Olivier Giroud
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.
Read More About: alex iwobi, alex oxlade-chamberlain, Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal, Arsene Wenger, carl jenkinson, Champions League, david ospina, Francis Coquelin, Granit Xhaka, Hector Bellerin, kieran gibbs, laurent koscielny, Ludogorets, mesut ozil, olivier giroud, petr cech, Shkodran Mustafi