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How will Arsenal line up at Bayern Munich?

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With a massive clash in the UEFA Champions League coming up for Arsenal in Germany on Wednesday, how will Arsene Wenger line the Gunners up?

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Wenger, 67, will be on the sidelines for the first time in over a month as his four-game touchline ban is now over and was only for domestic games.

Arsenal head to the Allianz Arena to face Bayern Munich for the first leg of their UCL Round of 16 tie with uncertainty still swirling about the future of Wenger beyond this season, plus the futures of star players Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil.

Putting all of this aside, Wenger badly needs a positive result or even a draw would be deemed as successful from the trip to Bavaria.

Remember: Arsenal has been knocked out at the last 16 stage in each of their last six UCL campaigns, with Bayern dumping them out twice in that run.

Yet, Wenger will be optimistic after his side have beaten Bayern away from home in two of their last three trips to the Allianz, going unbeaten across those three encounters. With Carlo Ancelotti’s men top of the Bundesliga but yet to hit to form in the 2016-17 season, this is a chance for top four chasing Arsenal to put aside their recent Premier League woes and reignite their season.

Let’s take a look below at how Wenger could line Arsenal up in Munich, bearing in mind a draw would be plenty good enough.


Arsenal’s starting XI at Bayern Munich

—– Ospina —–

— Bellerin — Mustafi — Koscielny — Gibbs —

—- Coquelin —- Xhaka —-

— Walcott — Ozil — Chamberlain —

—– Sanchez —–

Thoughts…

Wenger has already confirmed that Ospina will play ahead of usual first-choice goalkeeper Petr Cech, as he continues with his policy of playing the Colombian international in all of the cup games.

The defense pretty much picks itself, with only the left back slot up for debate. With Nacho Monreal left out of the win against Hull City, Kieran Gibbs offered plenty in attack and although he could’ve been sent off for a last-ditch foul on Lazar Markovic, he looked reasonably solid in defense. I’d go with Gibbs but wouldn’t be surprised if Monreal starts.

In midfield is where the real issue is. With Jack Wilshere out on loan, plus Aaron Ramsey and Santi Cazorla injured, there aren’t many options for Wenger. Yet, with a fluid Bayern offense knowing that a big home win would all but see them through to the quarterfinals, Wenger will need protection in front of his back four. Francis Coquelin makes tackles, interceptions and tracks runners in his sleep and alongside him Granit Xhaka should start for added assurance. Given his experience of playing in Germany, Xhaka’s return from suspension should be key if (and it’s a big ‘if’) he can keep his head.

With the 4-2-3-1 formation, the only change I’d make to the starting lineup at the weekend would be to shift Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from the center out to the left flank in place of Alex Iwobi. The former adds a little more defensive stability and although he has been digging deep in a central role, I still think his best position is out wide where he can cut in and send strikes in on goal or whip in dangerous deliveries.

Alexis Sanchez plays up top on his own but will have license to roam with Theo Walcott and Mesut Ozil both on the prowl alongside Sanchez.

Nantes pays tribute to the late Sala with special jersey

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NANTES, France (AP) French club Nantes will pay tribute to late Argentine player Emiliano Sala by wearing a special blue and white shirt during Sunday’s league game gainst Bordeaux.

Nantes, which traditionally plays in yellow and green, said Tuesday that the commemorative outfit is available for sale. All profits from the sales will be allocated to Sala’s training clubs in Argentina.

“Because he dreamed of wearing Argentina’s shirt, Nantes players will leave their usual yellow and green jersey for a white and blue tunic,” Nantes said in a statement.

Sala was killed a year ago when the single-engine aircraft carrying him from Nantes to his new club in Cardiff crashed near the Channel Island of Guernsey on Jan. 21. Hours earlier, FIFA had received an online document from the Welsh soccer federation to complete transferring the player’s registration from France.

Sala’s body was recovered from the wreckage two weeks later.

Nantes said a picture of Sala will also be displayed in the center circle at Stade de La Beaujoire and a minute’s applause will be held in his memory.

Since Sala’s death, Nantes and Cardiff have been involved in a dispute over transfer fee payments. Last year, Cardiff filed a court appeal seeking to overturn a FIFA order it must pay Nantes a 6 million euro ($6.7 million) first payment for Sala. FIFA ruled in favor of Nantes and warned Cardiff it faces a transfer ban of three trading windows if it refuses to pay when the case is settled.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Bentaleb joins Newcastle; Blades sign Robinson; Campana to Wolves

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Three Premier League clubs made signings on Tuesday as Nabil Bentaleb has joined Newcastle United, Leonardo Campana has arrived at Wolves and Jack Robinson has signed for Sheffield United.

Bentaleb, 25, has initially joined Newcastle from Schalke on loan with an option to make the deal a permanent one at the end of the season.

The former Tottenham midfielder will add extra quality to the engine room as Steve Bruce‘s side continue to sit pretty in midtable despite a laundry list of injuries to deal with.

“I’m very happy to come back to the Premier League, especially with a club such as Newcastle,” Bentaleb said. “The project really interested me. I wanted absolutely to come back to the Premier League. The coach had some trust in me and the club also – I saw that straight away – and I think it’s the perfect move for me.”

Bentaleb has so much promise and showed that as a youngster for Spurs and for Algeria at the 2014 World Cup and he was a regular at Schalke over the past few seasons before falling out of favor during the 2019-20 campaign as he is yet to make an appearance due to suffering a torn meniscus in September.

Wolves have been trying to complete the deal for Campana for some time but everything is now sealed for the Ecuador international to arrive in the Premier League.

Campana, 19, has been a star for Ecuador at youth international level and he’s signed a three-and-a-half year deal with Wolves to become the understudy to Raul Jimenez. He rose to prominence at the South American U20 Championships last summer as the top goalscorer at the tournament as Ecuador won the title. He has already graduated to the full national team and he is ready to get going in England.

“I am excited about the work the team has achieved this season. I know they support each other, their relationship with the manager is a good one and I know all the players get along really well. That motivated me to come here and to be part of this big family,” Campana said.

As for Robinson, 26, he arrives on a two-and-a-half year contract from Forest for an undisclosed deal as Blades boss Chris Wilder revealed he tried to sign the left-sided center back when he previously played for QPR.

“It’s a big confidence boost coming somewhere you know you’re wanted,” Robinson said. “The gaffer has done an unbelievable job over the last 3 years and I’m really excited to play under him. It’s a privilege to sign here, excited to be back in the Premier League I’m ready to show the fans why the gaffer has signed me.” 

Robinson, a Liverpool academy product who made his debut for them as a 16-year-old, will be one of Wilder’s three center backs and is keen to perform the overlapping role in Sheffield United’s quirky but hugely effective system.

Both of the signings are fairly prudent ones but bolster squads which need it after fine starts to the season as both Wilder and Bruce need extra players as they aim to push for at least a top 10 finish in the Premier League.

Mourinho denies bust-up with Rose

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Jose Mourinho has denied he has had a training ground bust-up with left back Danny Rose.

Reports had circulated that Rose and Mourinho were involved in a heated argument in training on Monday after the England left back was unhappy to be left out of the squad for the 0-0 draw at Watford on Saturday.

Mourinho had said that Rose was out injured with a back problem but the left back has since denied he wasn’t fit to play against the Hornets.

Speaking to the media ahead of Spurs’ home game against Norwich on Wednesday (Watch live, 2:30 p.m. ET online via NBCSports.com), Mourinho wasn’t having any of it.

“I don’t know what you mean by tension in the air, I don’t have a problem with him,” Mourinho said. “On the Thursday before Watford late evening I got a call from my medical staff saying that Danny was calling them with a problem in his back and he wouldn’t train the next day. Friday it was a bit of a surprise to see him training, but even so I decided to play with (Japhet) Tanganga and have Ryan (Sessegnon) on the bench. That is the situation.”

Mourinho added that Rose’s display against Liverpool was “not phenomenal” and reading between the lines, he was dropped.

If there wasn’t an incident or at least some anger between Rose and Mourinho, why would reports of this nature surface?

With youngster Japhet Tanganga starting at left back for Tottenham, and doing a very good job as Mourinho praised him afterwards, it is understandable that Rose would have his nose put out of joint a little.

The England international has less than 18 months left on his current contract at Spurs and has already spoken publicly about his plans to run down that deal as chairman Daniel Levy hasn’t offered him a new deal.

It will be intriguing to see how this plays out as Tanganga now seems to be Spurs’ first choice left back and Rose will have to be happy with playing a bit-part role between now and the end of the season.

His experience and quality is undoubted but with Spurs’ defensive unit all over the place this season, Mourinho is well within his rights to mix things up with formations and personnel as he tries to make Tottenham tough to beat.

Solskjaer: United have made “strides forward”

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Ole Gunnaer Solskjaer believes his Manchester United side have taken “strides forward” following their 2-0 defeat at bitter rivals Liverpool on Sunday.

United were outplayed for the vats majority of the game and were lucky to be only 1-0 down heading into the 90th minute but the grit and determination they showed impressed Solskjaer who lauded his young team.

Without the injured star duo of Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba for the daunting trip to the Premier League leaders, United’s manager was in a positive mood ahead of their clash against Burnley on Wednesday (Watch live, 3:15 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

“We lost to Liverpool. A team that you all say are fantastic and we’ve been in the game until the last kick of the ball. For me, that’s strides forward,” Solskjaer said. “Of course we’re disappointed about losing the game. We don’t want to be behind them in the league. But there are signs there that we’re on the right track, definitely.”

Is Solskjaer’s positivity misplaced?

Some would argue that United were lucky that Liverpool’s finishing was lackluster and that is true but the Red Devils hung in there and should have equalized in the second half but Anthony Martial blazed over.

They were missing at least four or five players in key areas for the trip to United as Rashford, Pogba and Scott McTominay were out injured and they badly need another attacking midfielder (ahem, Bruno Fernandes) to help with their play in the final third.

Solskjaer is right, there were positives for United. Fred played extremely well in midfield and both Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka stood tall defensively out wide. But the main takeaway from their trip to Liverpool was that United were delighted to not lose by three or four goals. The gulf in class between the two teams was clear for all to see and although United are trying to sort out their disjointed and confused squad by signing young, talented players, they are so far off Liverpool it is scary.