Arsene Wenger faces an unenviable activity as he tries to determine the right way to cease the Manchester City juggernaut in Sunday’s Carabao Cup last. The Gunners might have crushed Pep Guardiola’s aspect in final season’s FA Cup semifinal, however there isn’t a doubt that they go to Wembley as underdogs this time. That means the onus is on Wenger to get his ways proper, and he has a number of selection issues to resolve.
The excellent news is that Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey ought to each be accessible after recovering from an sickness and damage, respectively. The unhealthy information is that Henrikh Mkhitaryan is cup-tied, robbing Arsenal of one in every of their finest playmakers.
So how ought to Wenger line up on Sunday? Here’s a have a look at the largest selections he’ll should make.
Which formation to make use of?
This could be the largest headache. How to counter City’s rampant assault, when Arsenal’s defence is so notoriously leaky? There appear to be three choices on the desk: play the same old Four-2-Three-1 and attempt to take the sport to City; use the Four-Three-Three system that provides extra stability in midfield however was totally ineffective going ahead against Tottenham; or revert to the defensive back-three formation that helped Arsenal win the FA Cup final yr.
Wenger has ditched the again three these days, partly due to poor leads to away video games, however this may very well be the right time to resurrect it. Mkhitaryan’s absence may make it much more engaging, as Wenger might be with out one in every of his high attacking midfielders.
How to switch Mkhitaryan?
The Armenia worldwide has already picked up 5 assists since he changed Alexis Sanchez in January, and his reference to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will definitely be missed in a recreation the place possibilities may very well be few and much between.
The best choice for changing Mkhitaryan will rely largely on which system Wenger chooses. If he does go together with a again three, it could seemingly be Ozil and Alex Iwobi enjoying as the 2 attacking midfielders behind Aubameyang. That attacking trio may additionally work in a Four-Three-Three, however they would not have the help of wing-backs going ahead and Ozil appeared a shadow of his regular self in that system against Spurs.
In a Four-2-Three-1, nevertheless, Wenger would seemingly be compelled to decide on between both Jack Wilshere or Ramsey because the third attacking midfielder.
Should he gamble on Ramsey?
Ramsey has been Arsenal’s fortunate allure at Wembley of late, scoring the profitable targets in each the 2014 and 2017 FA Cup finals. He additionally confirmed nice scoring kind by netting a hat trick against Everton this month — earlier than a groin damage dominated him out for the final three weeks.
A completely match Ramsey would most likely begin, however the Welshman solely returned to full coaching this week and throwing him into such a high-intensity recreation may very well be a chance. And it isn’t like Wenger would not produce other choices in central midfield.
Which midfield partnership to make use of?
This one appears large open for the time being. Granit Xhaka had been probably the most fixed presence in midfield till he was dropped to the bench for the 2 Europa League video games against Ostersunds — and it felt like he wasn’t simply being rested after a number of shaky performances. But he was introduced again at half-time on Thursday for Ainsley Maitland-Niles, whose temporary cameo within the function appears to be over for now.
Wenger nonetheless has 4 gamers combating for 2 locations: Xhaka, Ramsey, Wilshere and Mohamed Elneny. That is, until he goes with a Four-Three-Three to suit three of these gamers in.
Mattias is ESPN FC’s Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.