Wenger faces keeper crisis as Arsenal face Anderlecht
Not for the first time in the past few years Arsene Wenger is facing an injury crisis. This, in contrast to others, must be considered far more serious, as Arsenal are at an odds-on price of 8/11 with Coral to beat Anderlecht.
Injuries to keepers Wojciech Szczseny and David Ospina means that the Arsenal manager must field reserve custodian Damian Martinez for the away clash, who has had spells on loan at Oxford United and Sheffield United since joining the club in 2010.
In his only two appearances for the Gunners, Argentine stopper Martinez has conceded six goals, one against Coventry City and five against Reading in the League Cup, when Arsenal managed to edge a 7-5 victory against the Royals. The north London club also have to choose between teenagers Ryan Huddart and Josh Vickers for bench duties.
Encouragingly, though, midfield duo Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey are ready to start, with the latter 6/1 to open the scoring and pick up where he left off prior to his injury.
Also in midfield, Santi Cazorla is one of two available players that have featured in both group games so far this season, and is 11/4 to net anytime, while the other, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, is 7/2 in the same market. The 21-year-old impressed for England during the Euro 2016 qualifiers, and may see this as an opportunity to stake a claim for a more permanent place.
Danny Welbeck also looks like he is starting to flourish to his new surroundings, and has scored three goals in two Champions League games, as well as last time out against Hull City. He is 4/1 to strike first, while attack partner Alexis Sanchez, who has two in four in the Champions League, and also netted the opener against the Tigers, is a 5/1 shot in the same market.
With inexperience in goal, Arsenal’s defence will have to be on their guard against Anderlecht’s 20-year-old Serbian striker Aleksandar Mitrovic, who has five goals in 11 league appearances so far this season. Their only goal in the group stage has come from midfielder Dennis Praet, and he is 16/1 to open the scoring and 6/1 to strike in the anytime market.
Theo Walcott could return from injury against the Belgian outfit, and extra pace in attack may give the Gunners another dimension, if Wenger switches Sanchez out to the left. The away team will then have searing pace down both flanks and through the middle, and the 25-year-old is 5/1 to break the deadlock.
With the lack of an experienced keeper, no doubt Wenger will hoping they emerge unscathed.