Arsenal forward Danny Welbeck has chance to resurrect career in AC Milan clash

Striking chance: Welbeck is playing for his Arsenal future: Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Standard Sport's James Olley looks at how Arsenal can rise to the challenge of AC Milan after a difficult spell which has cast Arsene Wenger's future into doubt.

Can Welbeck step up?

Danny Welbeck has the chance to resurrect his career with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ineligible and Alexandre Lacazette injured.

His performance in both legs against Ostersund raised concerns over his confidence and profligacy in front of goal. Welbeck, 27, has scored just once in 12 matches, taking his tally to 22 from 97 games.

It is a record that has raised the possibility of a summer departure — but a strong showing in the San Siro could have a revitalising effect for player and club.

Away form must improve

Arsenal's away-day blues continued at Brighton on Sunday (PA)

The Gunners have won just six matches on the road all season and the list hardly makes for impressive reading: BATE Borisov, Everton, Red Star Belgrade, Burnley, Crystal Palace and Ostersund.

Manager Arsene Wenger will be encouraged that three of those have come in four Europa League matches but Thursday's tie against AC Milan represents a considerable step up in terms of opposition faced.

They have conceded 25 goals since the start of 2018 and lost eight of their past 13 matches, including away defeats at Nottingham Forest, Bournemouth, Swansea, Tottenham and Brighton. A vast improvement is needed and fast.

Wenger’s full-back conundrum

As late as Wednesday morning, Hector Bellerin had been hopeful of returning to the starting line-up as he trained at London Colney with the first-team before they flew to Milan.

However, the Spaniard was left behind on advice of the club’s medical staff as he continues to struggle with a knee problem, leaving Wenger with major full-back issues. Calum Chambers looked unconvincing as Bellerin’s replacement at Brighton while Sead Kolasinac is badly out of form on the opposite flank as he deputises for Nacho Monreal.

It could prompt Wenger to switch from a back four to 3-4-2-1 shape but his ideal preference remains at of 4-2-3-1.

Ospina’s big chance

Ospina could take Cech's job on a more regular basis (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Petr Cech’s dip in form has raised the possibility David Ospina could enjoy a prolonged run. Wenger insists there is a genuine competition between the pair, so keeping Milan at bay would enhance Ospina’s case for inclusion in the run-in. Cech made two mistakes at Brighton and looks vulnerable. Arsenal’s defending has been dreadful and Ospina might have several chances to showcase his skills tonight.

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