The stage is set, actually, there are two stages. Since Arsenal doesn’t depend on themselves to top the group, we’ll all have one ear and one eye in Paris. This is the prime example of anything you can do, we can do better.
What looked like a great opportunity to snatch first place has now turned into this. Arsenal in Switzerland knowing they are through, but need help from Ludogorets if they want first place.
Natanael’s goal in the 16th minute gave the Bulgarian outfit hope in their first meeting, but that didn’t last long. Ludogorets did have an opportunity to level things at two against PSG from the penalty spot, but Moti couldn’t convert. So, what I’m saying is that while the chances are slim, Ludogorets needs a result to at least qualify for Europa League.
Maybe they will be sufficiently inspired to frustrate the Parisians enough for Arsenal to get a better result on the day? Hell, the odds are better for Ludogorets to get a result against PSG than for Arsene Wenger to splash £60m + on a transfer.
Therefore, as Lloyd Christmas said in Dumb & Dumber; so you’re saying there’s a chance!
At St. Jakob Park, Arsenal will meet a Swiss side who come into this match fresh off a defeat. A 3-1 loss at the hands of Young Boys will sting a bit, but I’m sure their 12 point advantage at the top of the league will make that frustration go away real quick.
Xhaka and Elneny’s mates will be out to bounce back in front of their fans. The hosts will also want to make things right against the Gunners after their 2-0 defeat at the Emirates on matchday two.
Who’s In & Who’s Out
Arsene Wenger finds himself in a tricky spot here. He’s named the same lot of players to travel, with the exception of Coquelin, who was replaced by his fellow Frenchman, Olivier I Score When I Want Giroud.
With a victory not guaranteeing the top spot, Le Prof is dammed if he does, and dammed if he doesn’t.
Basically, there are a few possible scenarios here in terms of team selection, so please allow me to break them down.
Arsenal fields the same starting XI that smashed West Ham at the weekend, except Coquelin makes way for Elneny or Ramsey.
They work their socks off, exert all sorts of energy, win the match, but don’t beat PSG’s result in Paris against Ludogorets.
Now, the #WengerOut crew is out in full force. They come out of the woodwork, saying Arsene is a sh*t manager for fielding a proper squad knowing it was difficult to get top spot.
With tired legs, they take on Stoke City at the weekend, drop points, and they somehow manage to draw Barcelona in the knockout stage.
Le Prof decides he’s going to make a few changes. The probability of PSG not smashing Ludogorets is slim, therefore, let’s not risk injury or fatigue. Seems like a logical scenario.
Alexis takes a break, Ozil takes a break, and Arsenal manage a 1-2 victory.
Meanwhile, in Paris, Ludogorets looked like the Bulgarian Galácticos, pulling off a 1-1 draw.
The #WengerOut crew is back.
What the hell was Wenger thinking?! Why wouldn’t he field a top squad. It was more than obvious Ludogorets would challenge PSG in Paris.
Minimal changes to the team that hammered the hammers. Simply slot Elneny in alongside Xhaka. This way, Xhaka can continue his more offensive role, knowing that Elneny will focus on defensive duties.
I feel like throwing Ramsey into the mix leaves Xhaka a bit uncertain in his role. Should I stay or should I go type of thing. He looks lost at times on whether he should get forward, or allow Rambo to go bombing forward only to make a bad decision.
With this plan, I’m certain one of his staff members will be paying close attention to how things unfold in the French capital.
You tell the lads to go out there and get it done. At halftime, you assess the situation given the score line in Basel, as well as in Paris. Is it still worth going for it, or is Ludogorets already waving the white flag?
Arsenal wins 3-1, and PSG draws 1-1, the Gunners FINALLY top their group.
Let’s Be Realistically Ambitious
If it was up to me, they’d field a proper squad, Arsenal would slot four past Basel, and PSG would slip up against Ludogorets.
Knowing that the likelihood of Ludogorets getting it done is possible but improbable, realistic expectations are a must.
Arsene Wenger already said he’s not sure he wants to give Alexis a break, in order to avoid disrupting his rhythm. A rhythm that looked scintillating against West Ham.
Fine, don’t want to mess with his mojo, start him, but do not hesitate to pull him out after 60 minutes if things aren’t going as wished in Paris. I’m sure Alexis would appreciate that, as would the supporters.
Basel’s manager says his side will not go into the match looking for a draw. I call bullsh*t!
You sir are most likey lying.
So you’re telling me you don’t think Ludogorets will get smashed against PSG, meaning a draw is sufficient for your side to qualify for Europa League? Yea, I’m not picking up what you’re putting down.
Basel will tighten things up and try to frustrate Arsenal for as long as they can, knowing that the Gunners need a win.
So the plan is simple. Go to Basel, score lots of goals, take Ozil and Alexis off early enough to give them a break, top the group as PSG concede a last minute draw, drop the mic and come home.
PS – If Xhaka’s significant other is at the match, could the camera crew make an effort to get her some TV time?! Please!? I swear I won’t ask again, but I’m certain there are plenty of Arsenal supporters who will agree with my request.