Arsenal attacker, Alex Iwobi is set to start from the bench in Thursday’s UEFA Europa League last 32 clash with BATE Borisov of Belarus, sequel to the return of Mesut Ozil and emergence of Denis Suarez.
Footballlive.ng gathered that, in spite of Iwobi’s return to top form and spectacular goal against Huddersfield Town last weekend, the Super Eagles star is set to give way, as Gunners’ boss, Unai Emery seeks to make the best of rotation.
Iwobi has found his place in the main squad over a spate of games in recent time, such that fitness and lethargy are being touted among reasons why he is bound to give way to Ozil and Suarez on Thursday.
Furthermore, Ozil has recently recovered from illness – as has Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – and could both feature in the starting lineup in Belarus, with Suarez also bound to get a first start in an Arsenal shirt after his loan arrival from Barcelona in January.
Arsenal reached the first knockout stage by registering five wins and a draw from six matches as well as five consecutive clean sheets, but The Gunners have struggled for consistency since the middle of December.
Six victories and six defeats have come from their last 13 outings, and Manchester United’s resurgence currently leaves Emery’s team rated as outsiders to finish in fourth place in the English Premier League.
Frequent injuries to key players in defence has also not helped Arsenal’s cause, and Emery has been left to try to achieve one of the club’s targets for the season against the odds.
As many as 28 different players were used during the group stages, but Emery is likely to call upon his most-proven players for Thursday’s first leg with the club having no fixture at the weekend.
Whether Ozil still falls into that category is open to debate, with the German playmaker being left on the fringes of the squad with the 30-year-old seemingly not fitting into Emery’s system.
However, Arsenal need to provide Ozil a platform to showcase himself if they are to successfully part ways with him in the summer, and Europa League is the perfect competition to provide him with plenty of minutes.
Emery will still want to give opportunities to his younger crop of players, but Ozil’s wage packet and apparent lack of desire to leave means there is more on Arsenal to achieve Champions League action next season.
A preview of the game stated in part: “Aubameyang is a likely starter with Arsenal not playing at the weekend, while Ozil could also feature from the opening whistle with Denis Suarez lining up alongside him.
“The rest of the team could remain the same from the weekend, with Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey unlikely to be risked while they deal with groin and knee problems respectively.”