Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Henrikh Mkhitaryan, David Ospina and Danny Welbeck will all start on Thursday night as the Gunners head into their second leg tie with Ostersunds having won the first leg 3-0.
Wenger insisted that he will be taking the game against the Swedish outfit seriously and warned his players about underestimating Ostersunds, despite Sunday’s League Cup final against Premier League leaders Manchester City on the horizon.
Wenger, however, confirmed that key players Laurent Koscielny, Jack Wilshere, Shkodran Mustafi and Mesut Ozil are all set to sit out the clash in north London. Revealing the players who will definitely play in the match.
“Danny Welbeck will play. He is getting sharper every day. In the last week he has moved forward, I think the game in Ostersunds has done him good. I believe that physically he is getting better,” stated Wenger.
On his decision on who will start the game as keeper, Wenger added: “It’s always a difficult decision, but I’ve been clear about that [starting Ospina in the cup matches] from the start of the season. I have two world class keepers and I decided from the start to have clarity in the games they play, I maintain that.”
Wenger, who seems wary of the dangers Ostersunds possesses, is expected to name a mixed starting team, with some youngsters mixed in with senior stars – one of which will be January signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan as he is cup-tied for Sunday’s final having played in the competition with Manchester United.
“Look at the results of Ostersund in the Europa League and they are quite impressive, home and away. The game demands respect. It would be absolutely stupid for us to go out there and think we could have a stroll. We would have a bad surprise.”
Arsenal head into the matches with Ostersunds and Manchester City in decent form, with the latter of the two matches crucial for the club as a bad result in the match at Wembley could mean Arsenal end the season without silverware with the Premier League out of reach and already being knocked out of the FA Cup after losing to Nottingham Forest.
Ending the season without silverware and not securing Champions League football could mean the end of an era for Wenger at Arsenal as the Arsenal board might look somewhere else for leadership.