LONDON, Sporting Alert – Arsene Wenger has recalled his Arsenal big boys for today’s Champions League round of 16 first leg battle against Barcelona at Emirates Stadium.
This means midfield playmaker Mesut Ozil, goalkeeper Petr Cech, as well forwards Alexis Sanchez and Oliveir Giroud all returned to the starting line-up.
Aaron Ramsey and Francis Coquelin start as well, so too does Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain while Theo Walcott, Danny Welbeck and Joel Campbell are among the attacking options for the Gunners.
Completing the starting XI for the English Premier League side are defenders Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny, Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal.
These four guys are expected to have their hands full against the likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez.
And speaking of the trident, Messi, Neymar and Suarez, all start today for Barcelona who come into this contest as the “super favourites” according to Arsenal boss Wenger.
Gerard Pique returns to start in defence, alongside Dani Alves, Javier Mascherano and Jordi Alba, with midfielder Sergio Busquets also returning to the starting team after missing the league game win over Las Palmas last Saturday.
The defensive midfielder will play alongside Ivan Rakitic and Andres Iniesta in the middle of the pitch.
El Haddadi Munir, Sergi Roberto, Aleix Vidal, Thomas Vermaelen and Jeremy Mathieu are all on the bench for the holders.
Goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen is also restored to the lineup with Claudio Bravo on the bench.
Arsenal manager Wenger says the Premier League side must stay focus for the entire 90 minutes in order to stop Barcelona from running away with this first leg tie.
Arsenal Team: Cech, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ozil, Sanchez, Giroud. Subs: Ospina, Chambers, Gibbs, Flamini, Campbell, Walcott, Welbeck.
Barcelona Team: Ter Stegen, Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Alba, Busquets, Rakitic, Iniesta, Suarez, Messi, Neymar. Subs: Bravo, Munir, Roberto, Adriano, Aleix Vidal, Vermaelen, Mathieu.