Arsenal travel to Swansea tonight and hope to secure all three points in what would only be their fourth away win this season, as the Gunners’ march towards a top-four place in the table.
Arsenal have had a difficult start to 2018, after two draws and two defeats in all competitions, including their surprise exit from the FA Cup on the hands of Nottingham Forest, they have won two games on the trot.
First, a commanding 4-1 victory over Crystal Palace and then advancing to the Carabao Cup final after beating Chelsea in the semi-finals. Of late, some hectic transfer drama has surrounded Arsenal after the protracted transfer of Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United was concluded with Henrikh Mkhitaryan coming to the Emirates as part of the deal. Then there is the small matter of the arrival of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang all set to happen.
But it is the Armenian who would be in focus for the game against Swansea, as the new Gunners’ signing is all set to make his debut. Arsene Wenger, in handing him his first game would need a lot of thinking in choosing the right starting eleven.
In the corresponding fixture this season, Swansea took the lead at the Emirates but were knocked back after Sead Kolasinac and Aaron Ramsey scored to secure all three points for the Gunners. Ramsey who has been out with injury could also make his first start since.
As for the team, it looks likely that Arsene Wenger would opt for a four-man defence at the back rather than the three-man defence he has often resorted to this season. Koscielny and Mustafi are the expected central defensive pair with Hector Bellerin, and Nacho Monreal expected to start at respective full-back positions.
Midfield is where Arsene Wenger will have to do most of his tinkering. Mohammed Elneny’s great showing against Chelsea could prompt Wenger to use him again as he could give defensive stability to the side. Or Arsenal could line up with two central midfielders with Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka.
Jack Wilshere could start from the bench considering the number of games he has played since Ramsey’s injury, especially during the hectic festive period as well as cup games. Wenger likes Ramsey’s energy and runs into the box, which no other player from midfield can offer.
The prominent inclusion would be new signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan who could be placed on the right wing or the left side of attack. Wenger likes a right-footed player from the conservative position, as he has traditionally been using Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the past.
Mesut Ozil is a sure-starter, either in the number 10 role or from his left-sided attack position, which he has played so far this season. Alex Iwobi would be the final piece in the attacking midfield puzzle and could start from the side, a place previously taken by Alexis Sanchez.
Iwobi played in this position against Crystal Palace to a great showing, scoring one goal in the process. Finally, Alexandre Lacazette is expected to start in attack and give Arsenal the cutting edge in front of goal with his lethal finishing and good link-up play.
This is how Arsenal could potentially lineup against Swansea City tonight.
The Gunners have no new injuries to deal with, apart from Welbeck who is sidelined with a hip injury and Santi Cazorla who is out for the long term. Olivier Giroud is one player who returns to the squad, having been out for over a month with a hamstring injury.
Arsenal’s bench had been a depleted picture of late due to the many injuries to first-team stars. This could change for the game against Swansea. Wilshere, Elneny, Giroud, Kolasinac and Maitland-Niles could all be backup options for Wenger.