Several members of the U21 squad could be involved when the Arsenal first-team take on Galatasaray tomorrow night in their final Champions League group stage fixture.
Arsene Wenger’s team have already secured their place in the Last 16 of the competition but a victory over the Turkish team coupled with a defeat for Borussia Dortmund against Anderlecht would see Arsenal top the group.
Despite this Wenger isn’t taking his strongest possible squad, with Laurent Koscielny and Alexis Sanchez set to be rested. In addition Olivier Giroud and Semi Ajayi aren’t eligible for the Champions League, whilst Mesut Ozil, Jack Wilshere, Serge Gnabry, Mikel Arteta, Theo Walcott and Nacho Monreal are all out injured. Mathieu Debuchy, David Ospina, Abou Diaby and Isaac Hayden are unlikely to be fit enough to play.
There was some good news with Tomas Rosicky and Yaya Sanogo both returning from injury to participate in today’s training session. Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who was on the bench against Stoke City at the weekend, looks set to remain with the squad, whilst Chuba Akpom, Gedion Zelalem, Stefan O’Connor and Glen Kamara also trained with the team today and are in contention for inclusion. Dan Crowley would ordinarily be considered for selection but he isn’t eligible to play in the Champions League at the moment.
If they feature it would be an excellent opportunity for Akpom and Zelalem to impress as both players, despite being part of the first-team squad, haven’t been called up as regularly as they would have liked this season.
Players who haven’t started regularly this season, such as Lukas Podolski and Joel Campbell, could be involved from the offset against Galatasaray. Wojciech Szczesny could replace Emiliano Martinez in goal.
Players in training: Szczesny, Martinez, Bellerin, Chambers, Mertesacker, Gibbs, Rosicky, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Cazorla, Flamini, Zelalem, Podolski, Giroud, Sanogo, Welbeck, Campbell, Akpom, Maitland-Niles, O’Connor, Kamara.
Arsenal U19s take on their Galatasaray counterparts in Turkey tomorrow and they could have something of a depleted squad if O’Connor and Maitland-Niles are involved with the first-team. Arsenal’s place in the knockout stages of the UEFA Youth League is effectively confirmed as they can only be eliminated if Galatasaray win by a greater scoreline than 5-1, which is the scoreline that Arsenal beat them by in the reverse fixture.