The mood of the resident Gunners in the Transfer Tavern has been characterised by pessimism and dejection since Arsenal recorded their third straight Premier League defeat at the Amex Stadium last weekend, but the players have a great opportunity to begin rebuilding the mood around the club with a victory in Milan this evening.
Arsene Wenger takes his side to the San Siro to face AC Milan in Italy tonight for the first time since The Gunners were humbled 4-0 by the Italian giants back in 2012. Considering the domestic form of the respective clubs, a similar outcome this evening would not arrive as a huge shock, but it would certainly leave the Arsenal supporters feeling incandescent beyond description.
There is no doubt about it, Wenger cannot afford any more hiccups this season if he wishes to keep his job beyond the summer. Now that Arsenal’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League via their league position have been firmly put to rest by results in recent weeks, the club have no choice but to prioritise the Europa League and ensure that they lift the trophy in May.
With that being said, it’s vital that Wenger gets his tactics spot on this evening and plays a team which will command defensive solidity throughout. Wenger may need to try something which he has not experimented with yet this season, by playing a 4-5-1 formation with three centre-midfielders, rather than two with Ozil operating in a free role in-front.
This decision would force Wenger to drop one of his attacking players out the team, and considering the quality of both Ozil and Mkhitaryan, Iwobi should be the player to make way. The Nigerian international (valued at £9 million by Transfermarkt) has been given countless chances to impress this season, but his performances show far appear to suggest he is lacking a cutting-edge that top-four teams need from their wide players in the attacking third of the field.
His display against Brighton left plenty to be desired, so Wenger must drop him tonight and instead pack his midfield to make his side difficult to break down. Ozil and Mkhitaryan are both capable of operating in wide roles, so one of the pairing should step into Iwobi’s position to make room for a central midfielder such as Aaron Ramsey or Mohamed Elneny this evening.