Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger shouldn’t be planning to see a majority of possession when his club face off against mighty Bayern Munich Wednesday night. The last time the Gunners traveled to the German giants, they managed just 34% possession of the ball. In fact, the club’s last three away trips to big clubs in Champions League play (PSG, Barcelona, and Bayern) saw Arsenal average just 39% possession.
Keeping this in mind, Wenger should plan to go with solid players in the middle of the pitch, and pacy wingers out wide to hit Bayern on counter attacks. Taking this into account, here is how Arsenal could (or should) line up against Bayern Munich.
Goalkeeper – David Ospina
The Colombian international has started every Champions League match so far this season for the Gunners (as well as the two FA Cups matches). Wenger’s insistence to go with Ospina for non-Premier League games has paid off, as the shot-stopper has yet to record a loss in six matches between the posts during the current campaign.
Defenders – Hector Bellerin, Shkodran Mustafi, Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal
Arsenal’s back line is fairly straightforward. Bellerin, Mustafi, and Koscielny are clearly the club’s best options at their respective positions. The only real debate in this area is whether Monreal or Kieran Gibbs should start at left back. While Gibbs was given a rare start over the weekend against Hull City, the Spaniard should be back on the left side of defense Wednesday night in Munich.
Midfielders – Mohamed Elneny, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mesut Özil
Granit Xhaka returns from suspension; however, Wenger could opt to ease the 24-year-old midfielder back into the squad following his second red card of the season. The Gunners have Xhaka, Elneny, Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Francis Coquelin in competition for the two central midfield spots, but the Egyptian and the Ox should partner up for the upcoming game.
Elneny is an extremely underrated player, and has shown that he can play well against top competition (he scored against Barcelona in his Champions League debut with Arsenal last year). Oxlade-Chamberlain looks like a different player since making the switch to the middle of the pitch, and will most likely keep his place in the spot next to the defensive midfielder in Arsenal’s lineup.
Although Özil is currently in the middle of a little rut at the moment, he must remain in the team’s starting XI due to the fact that he can produce brilliance at any moment. Wenger trusts his German superstar and he will in all likelihood be on the team sheet come Wednesday.
Forwards – Theo Walcott, Danny Welbeck, Alexis Sanchez
This is probably the area in which Arsenal have the most options. The Gunners currently have a plethora of attacking options and could go about six different ways. One thing is for certain though: Alexis Sanchez will start for the Gunners. With the Chilean an automatic inclusion in the XI, that leaves two open spots. Olivier Giroud is a proven goalscorer (and has previously scored against Bayern); however, with the match being played in Munich, Wenger will most likely want to utilize speed for counter attacks.
Alex Iwobi and Lucas Perez could very well be chosen to start the massive match, but I believe Walcott and Welbeck would be the best options right now. Despite his outstanding start to his Arsenal career, Wenger has yet to give Perez a single minute on the pitch against top opponents this season. Iwobi, while having a solid season overall, does not have the pace of Walcott and Welbeck in open space.
The England international duo would give the Gunners speed on the flanks, as well as solid finishing abilities. Welbeck’s height and heading prowess could benefit the club on set pieces too.