The Arsenal fans in the Transfer Tavern are already building up to what could go down as their most important game of the season. The Gunners are set to take on Atletico Madrid this summer in a game that could well define the current campaign and next season too.
A dominant win in the first-leg could effectively seal a spot in the Europa League final, whilst a loss could all but end their hopes of winning the competition – meaning that they won’t be in the Champions League next season, either.
A good performance this evening, then, is crucial, and so Arsene Wenger must get his team selection spot on.
However, in the lead-up to the game, the Gunners suffered a blow – with midfielder Mohamed Elneny forced off over the weekend against West Ham. He isn’t expected to feature this evening, given that he has suffered ligament damage, and so Wenger has a huge decision to make with regards to who he picks in the middle of the park.
There aren’t too many options, but it appears as though Arsenal fans want a big risk to be taken. We recently polled supporters on the prospect of young Ainsley Maitland-Niles featuring. He’s been a bit-part player this season, but his versatility has allowed him minutes in a few positions, and he was the player selected to replace Elneny over the weekend.
He has clearly impressed fans this term, too, given that 67% of supporters who responded to our poll have called for him to feature this evening.
It’s far from ideal to lose a player of Elneny’s quality in a game of this magnitude, and starting an unproven, inexperienced player in his place does offer reason for concern. However, he has looked composed and ready for the challenge in his other appearances this term.
Wenger certainly has a big decision on his hands as he looks to solve the Elneny problem, and it remains to be seen whether Maitland-Niles will be his solution.
Arsenal fans – thoughts?
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