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The stakes could barely be higher: win and not only will we lift just the third European trophy in our history, but we’ll secure our place at the top table next season. Lose… well, let’s not go there.
Arsenal manager Unai Emery has various formations he could use against Chelsea this evening.
The unpredictability of the Spaniard’s team selection is in stark contrast to his opponent, Maurizio Sarri, who will almost certainly use his tried and tested 4-3-3 system tonight.
For Emery, he could utilise one of three different formations. In Europe, he has gone for 3-5-2 pretty regularly, while 4-2-3-1 has been his favourite when opting for a four-man backline.
However, the 2-0 win over Chelsea in January saw him go for a diamond formation. Lucas Torreira, Matteo Guendouzi and Granit Xhaka stopped Chelsea’s midfield three from making an impact. I’m backing Emery to use the same tactic once again. So how will the Gunners line up?
Despite reports that Petr Cech is leaving for Chelsea to take up a Director of Football role, I think the 36-year-old will still be given the nod ahead of Bernd Leno this evening.
The keeper has been a regular starter in the competition and I don’t see that changing.
A four-man backline means Shkodran Mustafi will be the one likely missing out at centre-back. Sokratis and captain Laurent Koscielny will be marshalling the defence.
In the fullback areas, Ainsley Maitland-Niles will almost certainly be picked ahead of Stephan Lichtsteiner with Hector Bellerin out injured. On the other flank, Sead Kolasinac will probably get the nod ahead of Nacho Monreal.
The three-man screen of Torreira, Guendouzi and Xhaka could prove to be crucial to Arsenal’s chances. If they can break up Chelsea’s attacks quickly and set the Gunners on the counter-attack, they could punish their opponents.
Getting to Jorginho will be the key. The Italian dictates the Blues’ tempo, and if the three holding midfielders can disrupt his rhythm, they can essentially stop him from supplying the likes of Eden Hazard.
With Henrikh Mkhitaryan unable to play, and Aaron Ramsey out injured, Emery will need to select Mesut Ozil in the number 10 role to provide an outlet for the two main strikers.
There can be no argument on this one. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette are both in excellent form and should cause the Chelsea defence a lot of problems.
Especially if N’Golo Kante doesn’t start, the pair could cause a lot of problems between the lines, as well as providing stern tests for Andreas Christensen and David Luiz, who haven’t looked the best centre-back pairing.
The Arsenal strikeforce is primed to get goalscoring opportunities in Baku so let’s see if they rise to the occasion.
Cech, Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Koscielny, Kolasinac, Guendouzi, Torreira, Xhaka, Ozil, Aubameyang, Lacazette Ads by Revcontent