Basel and Arsenal face tense finale
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Both Arsenal and Basel know that victory may not be enough to realise their respective ambitions, with each knowing they need the result of the other Group A fixture to go their way.
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A 2-2 matchday five draw with Paris Saint-Germain took the destination of Group A out of Arsenal FC's hands. Already through to the last 16 and now away to FC Basel 1893, they have to better Paris' result on the same night to finish as group winners.
• The Swiss side are out of the UEFA Champions League but still harbour hopes of qualifying for the UEFA Europa League; to do that they must better the result of PFC Ludogorets Razgrad, who play in France. Basel and Ludogorets drew 0-0 on matchday five to collect only their second points of the campaign.
• On matchday two, an early pair of Theo Walcott goals gave the Gunners a 2-0 victory in the home game with Basel. It maintained their perfect record against Swiss opponents: five games, five wins.
• The Swiss champions drew their opening fixture 1-1, Renato Steffen coming to the rescue 11 minutes from time after Ludogorets had taken a surprise lead in Basel.
• In the double-header with Paris, Basel lost 3-0 away and then 2-1 at home.
• This is their seventh group stage campaign. In the most recent, two seasons ago, a 1-0 home win over Liverpool FC helped them finish as Group B runners-up for their first appearance in the knockout rounds since 2011/12.
• In the round of 16 a 1-1 home draw with FC Porto was followed by a 4-0 away defeat. They have lost just four of 21 home games in UEFA competition since the start of 2013/14.
• In 2014/15 Basel also drew 1-1 at Liverpool, which halted their run of four straight victories against Premier League teams in the UEFA Champions League. The defeat at the Arsenal Stadium was only their second in 11 encounters with English opponents in the competition.
• They beat Petr Čech's Chelsea FC 2-1 at Stamford Bridge in the 2013/14 group stage and overall their record against English rivals is W6 D8 L11 (W5 D3 L4 at home).
• The Gunners began their 19th successive group stage campaign with a 1-1 draw in Paris, where Olivier Giroud was sent off in added time.
• In the back-to-back encounters with Ludogorets, the Premier League side won 6-0 at home and then recovered a two-goal deficit in the Sofia return to emerge 3-2 winners.
• In each of the last six seasons Arsenal have fallen in the round of 16, going down 5-1 on aggregate to FC Barcelona in 2015/16 (0-2 home, 1-3 away).
• Arsenal have lost three of their last six European away games; before that they had met defeat only twice in 11 games on the road.
• The Gunners faced FC Thun in the 2005/06 group stage, winning 2-1 at home and 1-0 away. That was the only goal they have conceded in their five tussles with Swiss opposition.
• If Arsenal win the group it will be the first time since 2011/12. Since 2000/01, when they began their run of consistent qualification from the initial group stage, they have won their section on eight occasions. They have finished second in the group in each of the other eight campaigns.
Coach and player links
• Granit Xhaka started his career at Basel and landed two Swiss Super League titles before joining VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach in 2012. He signed for Arsenal this summer.
• Granit is the younger brother of Taulant Xhaka but they play for different international teams. Granit's Switzerland overcame Taulant's Albania 1-0 in a UEFA EURO 2016 group game in Lens.
• Mohamed Elneny came to Basel in January 2013 and won the Swiss Super League in each of his three seasons there before heading to Arsenal in January 2016.
• Elneny scored twice for al-Mokawloon in a 3-2 defeat by Omar Gaber's Zamalek in the Egyptian Premier League on 21 May 2011.
• Theo Walcott netted twice against Marek Suchý's SK Slavia Praha in Arsenal's 7-0 victory in the 2007/08 UEFA Champions League group stage.
• Giroud registered twice in France's 5-2 success over Iceland in the UEFA EURO 2016 quarter-final at the Stade de France. Birkir Bjarnason got one of Iceland's goals.
• International team-mates:
Éder Álvarez Balanta & David Ospina (Columbia)
Michael Lang, Luca Zuffi, Renato Steffen & Granit Xhaka (Switzerland).
• Marek Suchý will incur a suspension with his next booking.
• Basel were undefeated in 19 domestic fixtures this season before Saturday's 3-1 loss at BSC Young Boys.
• Marc Janko scored the decisive goal in the 2-1 victory at FC Sion on 27 November but was later sent off.
• Jean-Paul Boëtius (knee) has missed Basel's last three games; Andraž Šporar did not feature against Sion due to an adductor problem but returned as a second-half substitute at Young Boys.
• Francis Coquelin serves a one-game ban on matchday six.
• Arsenal's 19-match unbeaten run, since the 4-3 loss to Liverpool on the opening weekend of the Premier League season, ended when a much-changed side succumbed 2-0 at home to Southampton FC in the English League Cup quarter-finals on 30 November.
• Elneny (illness) was substituted before half-time against Southampton but did feature in Saturday's 5-1 league victory at West Ham United FC. Alexis Sánchez scored a hat-trick to take his tally to five goals in his last two appearances.
• Making his first Arsenal appearance for 12 months, Mathieu Debuchy sustained a hamstring injury early on in the 3-1 home victory over AFC Bournemouth on 27 November and will be sidelined until mid-January.
• Arsenal said on 1 December that Santi Cazorla will travel to Sweden for surgery on his right ankle. Cazorla, who sustained the injury against Ludogorets on 19 October, is expected to be sidelined for around three months.
• Wenger announced on 17 November that Hector Bellerín will be out for four weeks with an ankle injury.
Teams taking part in all of the matchday six UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League matches will observe a minute's silence to pay respect to the victims of last week's air disaster involving the Chapecoense team and accompanying delegation. The Brazilian club lost most of their players and coaching staff in the accident, which occurred in Colombia, where Chapecoense were due to play the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final against Atlético Nacional.
"European football is united in expressing its deepest sympathy to Chapecoense, the Brazilian Football Confederation [CBF], CONMEBOL and the families of all the victims," said UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin. "This tragedy has shaken the world of football, and we would like to send our support to all of those affected by it."