Normally, the ending of the international break is heralded with a cheer from most of us, as the return of club action is welcomed by us all.
With Arsenal being in the ditch when it comes to form however, it kind of robs us of any enthusiasm.
Still, the only way to come out of the mire is to win and that needs games. Southampton are visiting The Emirates and we have a run of games coming up that give us the chance to close the gap between us and the top four.
The Saints are not exactly in the best form themselves, but they have history when it comes to upsetting the odds and grabbing the win. Boss Ralph Hassenhuttl has a squad of great potential and they are capable of climbing the table, but are wildly inconsistent. Two games ago they pushed City all the way before succumbing to a 2-1 defeat, but they were also thumped 9-0 versus Leicester City.
The Saints have earned just two wins in the league all season, but that means very little when it comes to visiting The Emirates lately.
Our form is pretty abysmal – no wins in the last five, shedding goal opportunities constantly and a premium on genuine chances, Unai Emery has seen his side slump badly.
It is all primed for a game for the taking – which struggling side will grab the initiative?
In terms of injury, the international break was kind to us. We have one new injury, with only Sead Kolasinac out for the game after returning from playing for Bosnia Herzegovina with a tight hamstring.
The only other player to miss out is Dani Ceballos. The Spaniard is also out with a hamstring injury, although Ceballos is likely out until December with his.
In terms of selection, Emery normally goes with an attacking lineup at home, so Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, Nicolas Pepe and Mesut Ozil could all be involved.
The other development is that Emery has revealed that Granit Xhaka is ready to be recalled to the side after missing the last few. The Swiss star could well be put straight in, although more likely is that Lucas Torreira, Jo Willock and Matteo Guendouzi form the centre of Arsenal’s midfield.
In defence, Sokratis and Rob Holding may hold their places, with David Luiz another option. Kieran Tierney will play, especially with Kolasinac’s absence, and Hector Bellerin should be on the right.
Player to Watch
Saints have plenty of threat, but the player likely to cause the most problems is Ward-Prowse. The England man has superb dead-ball delivery, an eye for a shot outside the box and can link play, given the chance. With willing runners in Nathon Redmond, Moussa Djenepo and possibly Michael Obafemi, Ward-Prowse will have to be marked tightly.
How This Could Go
Saints have the game to hurt us, but it seems Hassenhuttl is still deciding what approach to go for. He can firm up the midfield and make it hard to play through, like he did versus City, and the key to that is Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. The Dane can break play up and then ping a diagonal ball to start an attack, and if Yan Valery is in the side, they may have a trump card to pick those long-range passes up – should our defence not be on the money.
The bottom line here is that we SHOULD beat Southampton. Our team is stronger and we are blessed with attacking skill. The problem is we have zero confidence, and that could manifest itself badly in this game.
Should the Saints frustrate us and we don’t score in the first half, the crowd could get tetchy and negative. If that happens, then our side could feed from that and struggle. A vociferous home support could be key.
So let’s back the boys to get the points.
Predicted Lineup – Leno, Bellerin, Sokratis, Holding, Tierney, Torreira, Guendouzi, Willock, Ozil, Aubameyang, Lacazette
Predicted Scoreline – 2-1 to The Arsenal