Arsenal resumed their Europa League campaign with a shock 1-0 defeat at the hands of BATE Borisov in the first leg of the round of 32. Considering that the Europa League is the easiest route to the Champions League for the Gunners, they should bring their 'A' game to the Emirates and secure a place in the round of 16.
Unai Emery's man started the game strongly as Mikhitaryan and Lacazette were given fairly easy chances to score, but both failed to do so. In the second half, the players looked lethargic and were frustrated by a very well organized BATE defence. Gunners' night went from bad to worse when their star striker Alexander Lacazette was sent off in the final stages of the match.
Arsenal have to do it all over again as they play the return leg on 21st February at the Emirates. Although the target does look achievable, Emery has to make sure that Gunners start the game strongly and finish all their chances.
Arsenal should start with the 4-3-3 rather than 5-3-2 as more attacking players would be vital to break the rigid BATE defence. However, the Gunners can shift to the defensive formation once they overcome the deficit by a minimum of 2 goals.
Here is how Arsenal should line up in the return leg:
Although Petr Cech might have been guaranteed a place in the starting line up by Arsenal in the Europa League, it is no doubt that his decision making has been questionable this season. On the other hand, Leno has adapted to the Unai Emery way and should definitely start the second leg.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles (Right-back)
Niles had a poor first leg in Borisov, but since Bellerin is injured, and Lichtsteiner has looked poor while dealing with pacey opponents, he is ideal choice to start at right-back.
Koscielny and Sokratis (Centre-backs)
This has been by far the safest CB partnership as Holding is out and Mustafi has proved to be shocking on many occasions.
Nacho Monreal (Left-back)
As we are going by full-backs rather than wing-backs, Monreal is by far a better choice than Kolasinac, as he is trustworthy while defending and has decent overlapping abilities.
Guendouzi had a decent first leg as the young French international created a good amount of opportunities in the first half.
The Uruguayan midfielder has been the heart of the "new Arsenal" since arriving in the summer. The inclusion of Torreira provides attacking freedom to his midfield partners as he usually handles the defensive duties.
Mesut Ozil/Aaron Ramsey
Ozil should be preferred as in the past he has proved to be vital in breaking rigid defences. If at all the rumours of Unai not trusting Ozil are true then Ramsey should take his place in the 11.
Out of all of the Arsenal players from the first leg, Iwobi was the only one possessing any threat and was constantly running at their defenders trying to create something.
Lacazette's red card in the first leg undoubtedly means the Gabonese international will start and lead the frontline at the Emirates.
Hopefully, Arsenal fans will finally see their new signing start a game for them. Since width will be an essential factor while breaking the BATE defence, Suarez on the right wing will be a constant threat on counters and his dribbling abilities would also come in handy.