Arsene Wenger could make heavy rotation to the side that played the first leg as Arsenal prepare to host Ostersunds in the Round of 32 second leg on Thursday.
Arsenal have one foot in the Europa League Round of 16 after a comfortable 3-0 victory against Ostersunds in the first leg last week. As the Gunners prepare to host the Swedes in the second leg, Arsene Wenger will look to field a side that has a healthy mix of first-team stars and youngsters.
Wenger has already stated in his pre-match press conference that several key players could miss the tie at home. The Arsenal boss will have one eye on the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City on Sunday and will accordingly pick his team.
Therefore, Wenger is expected to start several youngsters, who featured during the group stage of the competition, meaning the likes of Rob Holding, Reiss Nelson and Calum Chambers should feature on Thursday.
David Ospina is set to start in goal as has been the case in Europe so far this season. Up ahead of him in the back four, Hector Bellerin is the only option at right-back, but Sead Kolasinac could come into the side in place of Nacho Monreal, who is likely to be rested for the cup final.
At the heart of the Arsenal defence, Rob Holding and Calum Chambers should combine once again. In midfield, Aaron Ramsey has returned to training, but the game has come too soon for him. With the Welshman’s availability for Sunday in doubt as well, Granit Xhaka and Jack Wilshere could well be rested.
“He [Ramsey] is not in the squad. He had a good training session but he’s a bit short for Thursday. We’ll see how his evolution goes now from today until Sunday. I don’t rule him out yet, it depends on how well he can improve with the intensity of training until Sunday.”
Ainsley Maitland-Niles is, thus, expected to start alongside Mohamed Elneny in central midfield while fellow youngster Reiss Nelson could come in place of Mesut Ozil. Alex Iwobi is likely to start as well, starting on the left side of the attack.
One player who will definitely start is Henrikh Mkhitaryan, partly because he needs to play more games to attain the required consistency, and partly because he is ineligible to play against City in the Carabao Cup final. Wenger also confirmed that Danny Welbeck will start on Thursday, considering Alexandre Lacazette is still unavailable.
“He [Lacazette] is doing well. I think he will be ahead of his planned recovery. It should be four weeks from now, maybe three and a half weeks, so his response has been good. Yes Danny Welbeck will play on Thursday.”
Another youngster who could feature from the bench would be Eddie Nketiah, who has impressed Wenger this season, having scored on his Arsenal debut earlier in the campaign in the Carabao Cup.