The Arsenal supporters in the Transfer Tavern are hoping their side record victory over West Ham United this afternoon, but they are already beginning to turn their attention towards their side’s Europa League semi-final against Atletico Madrid.
Arsene Wenger welcomes David Moyes and his West Ham United side to the Emirates Stadium today for a clash which carries far more importance for the visitors than it does for the hosts. With a Europa League clash against Atletico to look forward to next week, it’s no surprise our resident Gunners faithful are feeling relatively nonplussed about their fixture.
Arsenal’s shortcomings in the Premier League this season have left them well adrift of the top-five clubs who are all vying for a place in next seasons Champions League via their league position, whereas the Gunners are banking on a Europa League win to secure their passage into the competition.
Their route to the semi-final has been relatively straightforward so far, but they will undoubtedly face their toughest test yet when they go head-to-head with the Spanish side on Thursday evening, so Wenger must bare that in mind with his team selection today.
In order to keep his squad as fresh as possible for the visit of Atletico, Wenger must rest a handful of key players against the Hammers, and one player he simply has to leave on the bench is Mesut Ozil (valued at £45 million by Transfermarkt).
The German international has taken plenty of criticism during his time in North-London, but he has won over the Arsenal supporters this season with a series of masterclass displays whilst floating in a free-role behind the striker.
His ability to prise open defences with a combination of intelligent movement, incisive passing and stylish dribbling is unrivalled within an Arsenal squad which is littered with talent.
Arsenal have a fantastic opportunity to salvage something from an otherwise demoralising campaign by winning the Europa League this season, but without Ozil they will struggle to find the creative spark that is needed to go all the way in the competition, so Wenger simply must rest him in a nothing game for the club against West Ham.
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