Arsenal travel to Dinamo Zagreb in their UEFA Champions League opener on Wednesday night.
The Croatian side are expected to provide a strong test for Arsene Wenger and his men, after the capital club went the whole of last season unbeaten – becoming the first team to win the Croatian top division without losing a single game.
Despite their excellent record in Croatia, Dinamo has struggled in Europe.
The Croatian champions during their qualification campaign for the Champions League, struggled defensively, and haven’t been helped by the loss of star centre-back Jozo Simunovic, who joined Celtic on transfer deadline day.
However, with their star Portuguese shot-stopper Eduardo available, they would be hoping he’d frustrate the Gunners efforts at finding the back of the net.
Arsenal on the other hand are going into the game against Dinamo on the back of an impressive victory against Stoke City, and despite the unavailability of vice-captain Per Mertesacker in defence, Wenger can still call on the duo of Gabriel Paulista and Laurent Koscielny to keep guard of either of Petr Cech or David Ospina.
Dinamo have two particularly impressive, combative central midfielders. Another Portuguese international, Paulo Machado, is a useful box-to-box midfielder and a feisty tackler, while captain Arijan Ademi is in a similar mould. These two are capable of controlling the midfield zone, and distributing play neatly out wide.
Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla can also be called upon to curb whatever treat the Dinamo holding and attacking midfielder may pose, with Wenger also having the option of Flamini and Arteta to bank on.
On the flanks, Dinamo have two dangerous players. On the left, number 20 Marko Pjaca starts high up the pitch and loves moving inside onto his right foot before shooting powerfully, while right-sided El Arbi Hillel Soudani goes down the line more. Despite wearing number 2, he’s a natural winger.
In this area, Arsenal can call upon a handful of options with Alexis Sanchez, Joel Campbell, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Aaron Ramsey available to choose from to make the starting eleven.
The Gunners also have the option to go with either of Olivier Giroud or Theo Walcott in the centre forward position.
Wenger will go into the game against Dinamo without Per Mertesacker, Tomas Rosicky, Danny Welbeck and Jack Wilshere, who are all sidelined with various degrees of injuries.
Predicted Arsenal starting eleven.
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