Arsenal vs FC Basel Preview: Gunners look for opening win in Europe

Arsenal will open their home account in the 2016/17 UEFA Champions League on Wednesday, as The Gunners entertain FC Basel on Matchday Two of Group A.

Arsene Wenger's men come into the game unbeaten in seven in all competitions, including four successive Premier League wins.

The North Londoners ended a five-year domestic hoodoo against Antonio Conte's Chelsea on Saturday evening, coasting to a dominant 3-0 win over The Blues.

Gunners seek first win of competition

Last time out, Arsenal held Paris Saint-Germain to a hard-earned 1-1 draw in Paris. Alexis Sánchez hammered in the rebound from Alex Iwobi's shot, to cancel out Edinson Cavani's opening-minute opener and take a vital point at the French champions, a fortnight ago.

Sanchez leveller gave Arsenal a vital point in Paris (photo:getty)
Sanchez leveller gave Arsenal a vital point in Paris (photo:getty)

On Matchday Two, Wenger's side will host another nation's winner, this time FC Basel of Switzerland. In recent times, the Swiss side have become somewhat of a bogey team for English opposition in Europe.

Both sides will be looking to record a first win in the group, after Basel also drew against Bulgarians Ludogorets Razgrad. Domestically, Urs Fischer's men are also in imperious form, having won their last five outings.

Rotblau have impressive record 

In 2011, Rotblau held Manchester United to a 3-3 draw at Old Trafford. In the return fixture, the same side - containing Xherdan Shaqiri and Gunners' man Granit Xhaka - knocked The Red Devils out of the Champions League at St. Jakob-Park, winning 2-1.

In 2013, Rafael Benitez won the Europa League, with Chelsea knocking out Basel in the semi-finals - who had already seen off Tottenham Hotspur in the last eight on penalties. 

Manchester United were knocked out of the Champions League in 2011 by Basel (photo:getty)
Manchester United were knocked out of the Champions League in 2011 by Basel (photo:getty)

The Swiss side exacted sweet revenge in a few months later however, beating the West Londoners home and away in Europe's premier competition, with future Blue Mohamed Salah scoring on both occasions. 

Even Liverpool are not immune. The Reds have not beaten Basel in four attempts. In total, the Swiss have won six times against all English opposition in 20 meetings, losing just twice over the last five years.

Duo make for strange bedfellows

As the two sides meet for the first time in Europe, there are one or two underlying narratives on show.

One in particular will be the likely battle between brothers Taulant and Granit - Xhaka. As documented the latter and former Basel player, will go head to head with his older sibling in North London.

Keeping it in the family: the Xhaka brothers met during Euro 2016 (photo:getty)
Keeping it in the family: the Xhaka brothers met during Euro 2016 (photo:getty)

Both men hail from the the Swiss town and are products of the club's youth team. The two met during previously Euro 2016, when Switzerland faced Albania. There was little love lot on the pitch on that occasion and once again on Wednesday night, brotherly love is set to be put to one side.

In another link between the two clubs, Mohamed Elneny will be reunited with his former team. The Arsenal midfielder left Basel back in January for fee of £5m, but may have to settle for a place on the bench.

Team News

Olivier Giroud serves a one-match suspension after the Frenchman was sent off late in Paris. Francis Coquelin has been ruled out for up to three weeks with a knee injury, so Granit Xhaka will deputise. Aaron Ramsey is set to return after the international break, while Danny Welbeck and Per Mertesacker are both out until the new year. 

Basel are without defender Manuel Akanji and midfielder Kevin Bua. The Swiss champions are expected to name a largely unchanged lineup however.