It’s been a good start to the season for Wenger’s boys. A marquee signing, victory over Spurs and the incredible form of Aaron Ramsey has put Arsenal on top of the league and on top of the Champions League ‘Group of Death’. And surprisingly, all this happened despite having key players injured. Lukas Podolski, Theo Walcott, Santi Cazorla and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain haven’t featured regularly so far having picked up minor injuries.
So what will Wenger do when they all come back? Competition for places (especially the midfield) are feisty. After the signing of Mesut Ozil, Arsenal have four players who play in the central-attacking position (Ozil, Ramsey, Rosicky and Cazorla), while also having a plethora of wingers (Podolski, The Ox, Walcott). In the defensive midfield role, Arteta, Wilshere and Flamini battle it out for two positions.
It raises the question, how can Wenger keep them all happy and what is the best starting XI? Wenger does like his favored 4-2-3-1 formation and he rarely changes it. Arsenal only have one recognized centre-forward in Olivier Giroud, so he definitely starts. Personally, I think the best team Wenger can put out is by using Cazorla and Walcott as starting wingers. Podolski does have fierce left foot, but he can be used as an impact player to come on from the bench in the second half of games. In the central attacking position, there is no doubt that German assist-king Mesut Ozil gets the nod. For the defensive midfield position, Flamini and Arteta should play. Ever since coming back, Matthieu Flamini has been a revelation; doing the ‘dirty work’, bossing the midfield and shielding the back four. Jack Wilshere has yet to fully recover from his ankle injury, so it’s best to play it safe with him.
But that would mean Aaron Ramsey missing out. Well, not really. In all honesty, it is extremely rare for a Premier League team (especially Arsenal) to have all their players fully-fit. So I’d expect Arsene Wenger to play Ramsey when Ozil is tired or has picked up a knock. Or maybe even play him in wide positions, as he has done so far in the league.
So to confirm, here’s the final and complete BEST Arsenal starting XI:
Defenders: Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs
Midfielders: Arteta, Flamini, Walcott, Ozil, Cazorla