Arsenal: Candidates for Left-Back Against Bayern Munich in the Champions League
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Arsenal's Champions League clash with Bayern Munich is now just a matter of days away.
Arsene Wenger's major selection headache surrounds who to play at left-back, as Kieran Gibbs is out injured and new signing Nacho Monreal is unavailable to play having represented Malaga in the competition earlier this season.
Bayern provide a significant threat on the right-hand side, and Wenger will be wary of maintaining defensive solidity on that flank.
Over the next few slides we identify some potential solutions for Arsene Wenger to consider.
Andre Santos has had a difficult season at Arsenal.
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The selection of Andre Santos is the one Arsenal fans fear most.
In many respects he is the obvious choice: with Kieran Gibbs injured and Nacho Monreal cup-tied, Santos is the only pure left-back left in the squad. However, his recent form is a real cause for concern.
The Brazilian had a relatively promising first campaign at Arsenal, albeit one interrupted by injury. However, since then his performances have nose-dived, and he has found himself as something of a lightning-conductor for the growing frustrations of the supporters.
The prospect of regularly fielding Santos in the Premier League is seemingly what provoked Arsene Wenger in to signing Nacho Monreal in the first place, so it's hard to imagine the manager being particularly keen to field Santos in Europe's elite competition.
Bacary Sagna has filled in at left-back when needed.
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Although predominantly a right-back, Bacary Sagna has shown a willingness to play at left-back when required.
This tactical switch would also enable Arsene Wenger to bring in Carl Jenkinson at right-back. The young defender had an outstanding start to the season and is arguably a contender to start the game whether or not Sagna is moved to the other flank. The Frenchman's form has been unusually erratic of late, and Jenkinson is a reliable alternative.
Switching Sagna may prove too big a risk for Arsene Wenger. His performances this season have been patchy, and moving him to an unfamiliar role is hardly going to help. I expect that Sagna will start the game, but it will be in his customary right-back role.
Ignasi Miquel is a promising youngster.
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Arsene Wenger has never been afraid to give youth his head. Perhaps he will turn to Arsenal's young Spanish defender, Ignasi Miquel.
During an injury crisis last winter, Miquel was asked to play left-back in a series of big games, including the second half of a crucial Premier League match against Manchester City.
Whenever he has been called upon for the first team, Miquel has acquitted himself well, showing remarkable maturity and poise on the ball. Intriguingly, most of those performances have been at full-back, despite the player's professed preference for playing in the centre.
Miquel would certainly represent a gamble, but he would at least allow Arsene Wenger to keep the rest of his defensive line intact.
Thomas Vermaelen in action in the Premier League.
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The problematic left-back position might just be a job for the captain, Thomas Vermaelen.
Although, like Ignasi Miquel, Vermaelen sees himself as a centre-back, he has all the requisite attributes to play at full-back. Fortunately, in Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, Arsenal also possess two centre-backs who could compensate for the loss of Vermaelen from his favoured position.
That would enable Arsene Wenger to select a defence including Vermaelen, Koscielny, Mertesacker and Bacary Sagna: four experienced international players who are used to playing on this sort of stage.
If Koscielny or Mertesacker were to be injured, however, this option suddenly becomes dangerous: it would mean fielding Sebastien Squillaci at centre-back.
What do you think? Who would you choose to play left-back against Bayern Munich? Let us know below.