Arsene Wenger has decided to rest a few of his key players for the Champions League opener against Dinamo Zagreb, with the Arsenal manager keeping in mind the crucial English Premier League encounter against champions Chelsea on Saturday.
Arsenal picked up a comfortable 2-0 win over Stoke City last weekend in the Premier League, and Wenger will want to carry forward that momentum, even if he has decided to rest Hector Bellerin, the young right-back, and Aaron Ramsey, the key midfielder. Arsenal vice-captain Per Mertesacker has also not travelled to Zagreb, as he recovers from illness and that car accident.
"It is more the global programme we have to absorb in the next three weeks, rather than one game," Wenger said of the club's upcoming fixture list, which includes two high-profile London derbies against Chelsea and Tottenham. "I knew since I [found out] our schedule that I have a squad of 20 players, all experienced and every decision I make is very difficult.
"It is quite easy to change two or three players, [more] than it was in years before because they are all at a very good level. I know the same team cannot play every single game over the next three weeks. I try to keep the balance right and give a little breather to players who need it."
With Bellerin staying back in London, Mathieu Debuchy will get a game at right-back, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain looks the likeliest candidate to take over from Ramsey on the right of midfield.
Gabriel played pretty well for Arsenal in the absence of Mertesacker, and the Brazil international is likely to keep his place in the starting XI, alongside fellow centre-back Laurent Koscielny, while Kieran Gibbs could come in at left-back as well, if Wenger feels the need to rest Nacho Monreal.
Arsenal are the favourites for this match, even if it is being played at Dinamo's home ground, but Wenger is staying cautious, knowing just how unpredictable the Champions League can be, as a few of Tuesday's matches showed.
"Our last visit [to Zagreb] was a very tough game," Wenger said. "We needed to be patient against a very strong side.
"They had a very strong team. We have to play at our best to beat them. They have not lost a game for 11 months."
Apart from the rested players, Arsenal will have to do without Jack Wilshere, who the club confirmed will undergo surgery on his ankle, ruling him out for a further three months, Danny Welbeck and Tomas Rosicky.
Dinamo Zagreb will be without Gordon Schildenfeld and Domagoj Pavicic.
In the other Group F match on Wednesday, Bayern Munich travel to Greece to face Olympiakos.
Expected lineups: Dinamo Zagreb: Eduardo; Pinto, Sigali, Taravel, Pivaric; Machado, Ademi; Soudani, Rog, Pjaca; Henriquez.
Arsenal: Cech; Debuchy, Gabriel, Koscielny, Gibbs; Arteta, Cazorla; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ozil, Sanchez; Walcott.