Arsenal entertain Atletico Madrid in the first leg of the Europa League semi-final on Thursday night. The Gunners have impressed in their progress to the last four of the European competition but they face a huge test of their credentials against Atletico Madrid, who are normally rock-solid in defence.
Petr Cech missed the weekend meeting versus West Ham United with a hip problem but he has since returned to first-team training. The Czech international should get the nod ahead of David Ospina between the sticks.
Earlier last week, Arsene Wenger suggested that he would use the Hammers game as a precursor and dress rehearsal for the midweek clash and the defence is likely to remain unchanged barring injuries.
As such, Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal should slot into the right and left side of the backline with Laurent Koscielny partnering Shkodran Mustafi in not an entirely convincing central defence.
Onto the midfield, Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka are strong candidates to start in the centre of the park and they are likely to be partnered by Jack Wilshere, who was left out last weekend with a minor ankle problem.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan has not fully recovered from his medial knee ligament injury and hence, he has been excluded from the squad. In this case, Danny Welbeck can be tipped to feature on the left-wing with Mesut Ozil on the right whilst Alexandre Lacazette should start in the central forward position.
Arsenal are certainly shot of game-changing options from the bench with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ineligible and Mohamed Elneny on the sidelines but they have a relatively strong XI who are capable of beating any opposition on their day.
Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid have not been in exemplary form under Diego Simeone as in previous seasons and the Gunners could capitalise on Atleti’s lean away run which has included four winless games on the bounce.