Arsenal can end our 25 year wait for a European trophy when we take on Chelsea in the Europa League final in Baku this evening. This is the line-up I’d like Unai Emery to select…
There is no way Petr Cech should start tonight. I just don’t see any argument for it. The 37-year-old is set to re-join Chelsea as a sporting director once his contract with Arsenal expires next month so how can we select him against his new employer? If that’s not reason enough, Emery should select Bernd Leno simply because he’s the better goalkeeper. This is a huge game for Arsenal as not only can we lift a European trophy for the first time in 25 years but victory would book our place in the Champions League next season. So we HAVE to select our No.1, meaning Leno should start – but sadly I won’t be surprised to see Cech given the nod.
Defence: Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Koscielny, Monreal
It’s going to be interesting to see how Emery lines-up tonight. He’s favoured a back three for much of the season but we beat Chelsea 2-0 with a back four in January so there is strong argument we should go with a flat back four this evening.
Laurent Koscielny and Sokratis will obviously start while I’d go with Nacho Monreal at left-back. We’d lose something going forward without Sead Kolasinac in the team but Nacho is better defensively.
The biggest issue is right-back as obviously we’ll be without Hector Bellerin. Stephan Lichtsteiner and Carl Jenkinson are options but the thought of them up against Eden Hazard gives me nightmares. Ainsley Maitland-Niles is more comfortable at right wing-back but I still think he’s the best available option at right-back against Chelsea.
Midfield: Xhaka, Guendouzi, Torreira
I think we should go with the same midfield trio that started against Chelsea in the league game in January with Granit Xhaka sitting in the holding role. The Swiss international would be flanked by Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi giving us a solid base in the middle of the park.
I think we’ve played some of our best football this season playing with three in midfield but it requires the players to be disciplined and not shirk their defensive duties as we’ll need to protect the back four.
Attack: Ozil, Lacazette, Aubameyang
The major difference from the side that beat Chelsea last time out is we won’t have Aaron Ramsey available. He was key in the win at the Emirates and his loss will be sorely felt tonight.
Mesut Ozil should therefore be given a start in the No.10 role and it will be a huge game for the German playmaker. He’s come under fire for his performances this season so it’s time for him to earn his £350,000-a-week wage packet.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette should lead the line up front and our deadly duo will be vital if Arsenal are to get a result tonight. We need our hitmen on top form and they’ve both been playing superbly in recent weeks so I fancy us to score at least twice tonight.
Unfortunately Arsenal won’t be able to call upon Henrikh Mkhitaryan as he’s been forced to miss the game due to safety fears. The Armenian international’s safety couldn’t be guaranteed due to on-going conflict between his country and Azerbaijan. It’s a complete disgrace he’s had to miss the final and Arsenal really should have put more pressure on UEFA.
Alex Iwobi will be an open from the bench while Danny Welbeck is also back in contention after recovering from a broken ankle that’s kept him out since November. It will be great to see him make a final appearance before he leaves Arsenal this summer.
This is the starting eleven I hope we’ll see: