Arsenal play third placed Southampton at the Emirates Wedneday in what will be a great test for both teams. Southampton has surprised this season, with new manager Ronald Koeman leading the way, and the Saints haven’t let up yet.
Meanwhile for Arsenal, this will prove to be a huge match. They haven’t been able to beat a top four team in quite some time, and the gap between the two clubs has been growing due to a poor November by Arsenal.
With two promising performances against Dortmund and West Brom, last week, there are some signs that Arsenal are regaining their shape from last year. In both those games they defended well as a team, focusing on their shape and not committing too many people forward to prevent counters. Holding on to their leads in a sensible manner was something they did well last year, and it seems with the return of Laurent Koscielny, they have gone back to this idea.
There are injuries doubts about Kieran Gibbs, Nacho Monreal, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, all three came out of this past weekends game with injuries. Who will get the start at left back is up in the air.
Meanwhile Mathieu Debuchy, Mesut Özil, Mikel Arteta, Wojciech Szczesny and Theo Walcott will miss out with injuries.
Here is Arsenal’s probable lineup against Southampton:
Goalkeeper – Martinez
Emiliano Martinez performed well in his full league debut last weekend. He made some key saves and looked confident in the air.
Szczesny hasn’t been able to train for about a week now, and its unlikely he will be fit in time for Wednesday.
He is clearly a talented player with lots of potential. It will be interesting to see if Martinez becomes the number 2 ahead of David Ospina, when Ospina returns from injury.
Right Back – Chambers
He has performed well the past three games and with no competition at this position, besides Hector Bellerin, its unlikely he sits this one out.
Center back – Mertesacker & Koscielny
Per Mertesacker was the happiest gunner on Saturday, with the return of his partner in crime. Mertesacker’s performance was much improved with Koscielny on the pitch and Arsenal looked much more reassured at the back than they had in a couple months. Koscielny’s return could spark Arsenal’s season.
Left Back – Gibbs
It’s really a toss up at this point between Monreal and Gibbs as both were injured over the weekend and no update has been given on either.
I’m going with Gibbs simply because he was able to finish the match and Monreal had to be taken off.
It wouldn’t be shocking if neither started and Arsenal went to another makeshift back four with perhaps Bellerin and Chambers starting in the full back position.
Defensive Mid – Flamini
Flamini had his best game of the season over the weekend, and it really helped Arsenal’s shape. Flamini is excellent at organizing a team but has been let down by some of his teammates this season.
His form will continue to improve and it is essentially for Arsenal that it stays at a high level.
Central Mid – Ramsey
Aaron Ramsey played better against West Brom, he defended well, was marking a little better and was trying to do the simple things.
You can tell that he wants a goal as he snatched at some long shots. Hopefully he will get that goal and it will free him up a bit.
Trequartisa – Alexis
Alexis Sanchez is need of a rest but with Oxlade-Chamberlain hurt and Lukas Podolski out of favor, Alexis again will start in an important match.
His form has dipped slightly since the international break, likely due to fatigue. Arsene Wenger should consider resting him in the next week, especially considering that Alexis is used to a winter break.
Wide Right – Cazorla
Santi Cazorla’s form has been phenomenal since the international break. He was by far Arsenal’s best player against West Brom. He, like Ramsey, is in need of a goal as he is snatching at his chances and looking frustrated in front of goal.
He has been able to create, defend, and drive his team forward though, in the absence of goals. Of the two, he is more likely to score sooner.
Wide Left – Welbeck
Although this may not be Danny Welbeck’s favored position, he played extremely well here against West Brom. Playing out left allows him to run to the center at Arsenal, something he couldn’t really do in this position at Man U. He is essentially a second striker with Olivier Giroud.
The two complement each other well, Giroud is the better hold up player, and Welbeck is better on the break.
Stirker – Giroud
Giroud had a solid first start of the season and injected some energy into Arsenal’s overall performance.
Although he comes under a fair amount of criticism, most of it is unwarranted. He is extremely valuable to the way Arsenal play and he was missed while injured. It is good to see him back.
Via – Lineup Bulider