Team news: Arsenal blow as Wenger confirms key man will miss CSKA tie

By on April 11, 2018

granit xhaka arsenal

Arsenal have been dealt a fitness blow ahead of our Europa League quarter-final second leg at CSKA Moscow after Granit Xhaka was ruled out of the game.

The squad flew over to Russia this afternoon ahead of the decisive second leg and we’re in control after winning the first leg 4-1 at the Emirates Stadium last week.

However, Arsene Wenger has been providing a team news update to reporters this evening and he’s confirmed that Xhaka failed to make the trip to Moscow after being struck down with a bout of flu.

The Swiss international isn’t my favourite player by any means but he is an important cog in our system and I’m sure his controlled passing will be missed as we look to protect our lead tomorrow night.

In Xhaka’s absence, Mohamed Elneny is expected to start alongside Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey in midfield but we’ll have few experienced central midfield options on the bench.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles would have been an option but he’s out with a muscle injury while Henrikh Mkhitaryan is unlikely to play again this season after damaging knee ligaments in the first leg.

Wenger has promised to field his strongest eleven and Petr Cech will keep his place in goal as David Ospina is out with an ankle injury and obviously Santi Cazorla is still unavailable.

The only other absentee is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as the striker is cup-tied so Alexandre Lacazette will no doubt lead the line up front and he’ll be looking to build on his brace from the first leg.

Overall, the squad is in decent shape and while I think Xhaka and Miki in particular will be missed tomorrow, we should still have way too much quality for a limited CSKA side.

The semi-finals are within reach, unless Arsenal decide to ‘do a Barcelona’ and throw away a 4-1 first leg lead. I can’t imagine the reaction if we were to throw this tie away….