Arsenal host Atletico Madrid in the Europa League semi-final in London in what could be a cracker of a game as the Gunners’ seek to win the competition.
Arsenal will be put to the test when they host Atletico Madrid at the Emirates, and Los Rojiblancos represent the most significant hurdle yet between the Gunners and Europa League glory. Atletico are a different kind of team, who have a highly defensive style of play as well as possessing excellent powers when counter-attacking.
If it were up to Arsenal, they would have chosen another time to play this match considering the injuries to key players, which may not lead Arsene Wenger to name his strongest squad. Despite that Arsenal will still have the depth to call a strong team to face the Spanish giants.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Mohamed Elneny are definite absentees for the game through respective injuries. Mkhitaryan is still recovering from a knee ligament injury, although he could likely return for the second leg. Elneny, on the other hand, may not play again this season after landing heavily on his ankle against West Ham over the weekend.
The good news for Arsenal, however, is the return of Jack Wilshere and Mesut Ozil, both of whom have been absent from recent games owing to injury and flu respectively. Ozil did not even feature against West Ham and was considered a doubt early on, but his timely return to training will boost any Arsenal hopes against Atletico Madrid.
Petr Cech is set to resume his goalkeeping duties after David Ospina started in the Premier League at the weekend. Hector Bellerin, Shkodran Mustafi, Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal, as expected will form Arsenal’s back four, while there could be slight changes in defence.
Wenger in his team news update confirmed the absence of Mohamed Elneny. The manager stated, “Mohamed Elneny is out for the rest of the season.”, though he did say, he could be available for Arsenal’s last Premier League game of the season as well as thinking he could be available for Egypt’s World Cup campaign.
This will effectively mean a place for Jack Wilshere in the starting lineup, who will form the central midfield trio alongside Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey. Ramsey has been in sensational form of late and will be the most advanced midfielder for Arsenal.
In attack, Wenger confirmed Mkhitaryan’s absence too; he said, “Mkhitaryan is not back in the squad yet”. His loss is set to be a blow for Arsenal, although they could take some hope from Danny Welbeck’s recent surge in form, and the England forward will start on the left side of attack, part of the front three.
Mesut Ozil’s timely return could add more dimension to Arsenal’s attack, as he, Welbeck and Alexandre Lacazette will complete Arsenal’s front three against Atletico Madrid.