Hot on the heels of our victory over BATE Borisov in the Europa League, we resume Premier League affairs with a home game against Southampton.
The resurgent Saints have improved their results drastically under Ralph Hassenhuttl, as well as their football. They play on the front foot and can adapt to their opponent, and have decent resources in terms of playing squad that allows them to do so.
The corresponding fixture told us this in no uncertain terms - a 3-2 loss that saw us peg the score back to 2-2 only for Charlie Austin to grab a late winner. In order to keep up with the top 4 spots, we will need to reverse this.
Saints have upturned their fortunes and look more like a team that can avoid relegation, despite their current position in the relegation zone. They are a solitary point away from safety, and there is a weakness we can exploit.
They have failed to keep a clean sheet since the 2nd of January, and are leaking goals.
With our defence hardly watertight, we could be looking at a game of whoever scores most, wins…
Laurent Koscielny suffered a knock in midweek, and is a real doubt for this fixture. We will most likely have Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis in the centre, unless Emery opts for five at the back, and then they may be joined by Nacho Monreal.
Lucas Torreira didn’t start versus BATE, so could come in for Matteo Guendouzi, and Alexandre Lacazette will be primed to play after sitting out in midweek. Aaron Ramsey is another who could be used, especially with the influx of fixtures beginning now.
Aside from the long-term injuries, the only other name who could miss out is Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who is suffering from illness. That could mean another start for Stephane Lichtsteiner - a second in three days.
Player to Watch
Charlie Austin has never failed to score against us, but it won’t be the striker who gives us most problems.
James Ward-Prowse has been scoring, assisting and generally being a midfield wizard for Saints. We need to do one thing to dramatically lower his risk, and that is avoid giving away needless set-plays. If we can do that, then our defence can breathe a little easier. Ward-Prowse may well be one of the most accurate at pinging in free kicks in the League, so we could make our lives a little easier.
How Will The Game Go?
This match will have goals. Lots of them.
Both teams can’t defend and neither place any form of concentration on this.
The key for us is being able to create, and so Sead Kolasinac and Alex Iwobi are pivotal.
The above two are our top two creators believe it or not, and our left side combo will be integral if we are to beat the Saints and get the first half of our South Coast combo off to the best start.
We play Bournemouth on Wednesday, the points here are vital, and so is the confidence we so badly need.
We haven't lost against Southampton at home for 23 games. Let's make it 24.
Leno, Lichtsteiner, Sokratis, Mustafi, Monreal, Kolasinac, Torreira, Xhaka, Ramsey, Iwobi, Aubameyang, Lacazette
Predicted Scoreline - 3-1 to The Arsenal