Arsenal will have a tricky fixture against Basel this midweek as both the clubs would need a win to achieve their respective ambitions in the campaign. While Arsenal would need to beat Basel and hope PSG lose to Ludogorets to qualify for the top spot, Basel would not qualify for Europa League if they fail to better Ludogorets’ result in France.
Both Arsenal and PSG have qualified for the knockout stages and Arsenal squandered a realistic chance to cement their place at the top after they threw away a one-goal lead owing to poor defending and eventually an own goal.
In each of the last six seasons, Arsenal have fallen out in the round of 16 after they were pitted against stronger opponents and the Gunners know quite well such a situation might arise yet again if they fail to finish top of the table.
Unlike the EFL Cup, Arsene Wenger has deployed a stronger team in their UCL campaign and we expect him to do the same this time. David Ospina has been Arsenal’s Champions League designated goalie and he has been brilliant in the group stages so far. Wenger is expected to stick with him.
After Wenger revealed that Carl Jenkinson is suffering from loss of confidence, Gabriel has been more or less the preferred right back and we expect him to start the Brazilian against Basel.
Shkodran Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny should take their position in the central defence as they have been Wenger’s most trusted defensive duo. Kieran Gibbs in place of Nacho Monreal could be the only defensive change from their weekend’s thumping victory over West Ham United.
Wenger has been criticised a lot for his midfield combinations and the Frenchman has himself stated that the void of Santiago Cazorla could only be balanced by Granit Xhaka paired with either Francis Coquelin or Mohamed Elneny.
Xhaka started his football career at Basel and landed two Swiss Super League titles before joining VfL Borussia Monchengladbach in 2012. The central defensive duo will be playing behind Mesut Ozil, who has been in the dazzling form in the Champions League.
Wenger has largely depended on pace for his attack in the last two league matches, which have been quite successful. But, we expect the gaffer to give chance to young Alex Iwobi in the pace of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the starting lineup.
After his brilliant performance against Southampton, Iwobi would be needing a good game to recover from his blunder against PSG. Walcott will take the right flank as it was his brace that helped Arsenal win in the reverse fixture. Lucas Perez might start as the forward as Wenger might opt to rest Alexis Sanchez.