Arsenal aiming for 1st group win tonight against FC Basel
Arsenal aiming for 1st group win tonight against FC Basel

Arsenal take on Swiss champions FC Basel in Matchday 2 of the Uefa Champions League at the Emirates Stadium tonight (7.45pm kick-off UK time).

Both clubs drew their opening Group A fixture a fortnight ago.

The Gunners required a late Alex Sanchez goal to snatch a 1-1 draw with Paris Saint-Germain in Paris.

Whilst FC Basel were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Bulgarian champions Ludogorets.

Renato Steffen coming to the Swiss sides rescue 11 minutes from time after Ludogorets had taken a surprise lead.

This will be the first competitive fixture between the clubs.

Arsenal have a 100% record against Swiss opposition in European competition.

FC Basel have a decent home record against English clubs but haven’t travelled to well to these shores in the past.

The Swiss have only won one of 12 games on English soil. That was a 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea in the 2013/14 Champions League group stage. Their overall record on English soil is W1 D5 L6.

They are though once again dominating the Swiss league this season. Winning all 9 of their Swiss Super League matches so far this season. The latest victory was a 3-1 win away at FC St Gallen on Saturday night.

The Gunners come into tonight’s match buoyed by the 3-0 win over Chelsea in the Premier League on Saturday.

Key Men

Arsenal have two former FC Basel players in their ranks.

Mohamed Elneny joined FC Basel in 2013. During his time with the club he won three Swiss Super League titles before joining the Gunners in January 2016.

Granit Xhaka started his career at FC Basel and landed two Swiss Super League titles before joining VfL Borussia
Mönchengladbach in 2012. He signed for Arsenal this summer. He is the younger brother of FC Basel’s midfielder Taulant Xhaka. With Francis Coquelin missing out through the knee injury he picked up against Chelsea on Saturday, Granit will get the chance to play against Taulent tonight.

David Ospina is set to return in-goal in place of Petr Cech. He will hope to replicate the form he showed in Matchday 1 against Paris Saint-Germain rather than the error strewn performance he produced in Matchday 2 last season against Olympiacos.

With Olivier Giroud suspended after his sending off against Paris Saint-Germain, the Gunners will be hoping that Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott can continue their recent goalscoring form.

Like Arsenal FC Basel play a 4-2-3-1 formation.  Marek Suchy and Eder Balanta form a solid centre-back pairing. 33-year-old Argentinian Matias Delgado plays the No 10 role. In attack the speedier more mobile Seydou Doumbia is likely to be preferred to the 6ft 5in targetman Marc Janko.

The Managers

Arsene Wenger

“They have beaten everybody in England – Man United, Chelsea and Liverpool. They have had strong results in Europe,”. said Wenger of Basel.

It’s our target [to top the group] but the truth is on the pitch. We had a good game on Saturday but let’s show that we can go from good game to good game and put the effort in every single game. That’s what it is about.

In recent years we came always out of the group stage. Last year, let’s say it was difficult because we made it difficult for ourselves and we have learned as well that in the group stage it’s not only important to qualify but, if possibly, qualify as top of the group. It gives you many more chances after to go through.”

Urs Fischer

We will see what is going to happen,” Fischer said. “In the end it is important for us to look at us, not at what other people are saying or writing. We have to look at ourselves but the past is a positive thing for us.

We have to show confidence and play with confidence, so the results are important but the past is the past and the present is all that matters. The present is tomorrow. I think we have to play a very good game to be able to get something tomorrow.

They are in such great shape, I just hope they won’t be that great tomorrow,” he added. “If you look at their games, Watford they won 3-1 and then [Nottingham] Forest 4-0 — they know where the goal stands, that is not a one-off and they are in good form.

The game in Paris [a 1-1 draw against Paris Saint-Germain], when I watched the highlights I got the impression they were very lucky to draw 1-1, but when you watch the entire 90 minutes they dominated the whole game away in Paris against a great team.

They had everything in control so therefore I think we have a very difficult situation but one that can be solved. We have to show a top performance and take the right decisions at the decisive moments.”

Prediction

Arsenal to get their first group stage win with a 2-0 scoreline.

Referee: Danny Makkelie (NED)

Save