Arsenal v Southampton: Match preview and predicted line ups
This game represents a great opportunity for both Arsenal and Southampton. Before the international break, both teams were slightly struggling to get their seasons going, with absentees making things difficult for Arsenal and yet another new manager and set of players disrupting the momentum of last season’s sixth place finish for Saints. A win could really kick start the campaign for each side, and both will be very keen to get it.
Arsenal usually struggle at the start of the season, and 2016/17 has been no exception. A thrilling 4-3 defeat to Liverpool was followed by a steadying 0-0 draw with Leicester and a 3-1 win over Watford that showed signs of the Gunners getting back to their best.
Southampton have also suffered a difficult start. Draws at home to Watford and Sunderland sandwiched a difficult 2-0 defeat to Manchester United. There have been signs that things are starting to come together under Claude Puel, but this is yet to translate into results on the pitch during the first three games.
Injuries and suspensions
Arsenal seemingly always have a very busy treatment room, and they will continue to do without Per Mertesacker, Gabriel Paulista, Danny Welbeck and Carl Jenkinson for the visit of Southampton. However, they should be able to welcome back Alex Iwobi and Aaron Ramsey, who have been out with injuries picked up on the opening day of the season against Liverpool.
Southampton also have long term problems, with Florin Gardos and Jeremy Pied still suffering from long term injuries. Fraser Forster is a concern after pulling out of the England squad with an arm injury, whilst Ryan Bertrand is back in the squad after missing the start of the season but it is unknown whether Puel considers him fit enough to play from the start. New record signing Sofiane Boufal will have to wait for his debut with what the manager describes as a “little” injury on his knee.
Thanks to Arsenal finally getting a move on in the transfer market, there is the chance that there may be some debutants in the Gunners eleven. Despite going down injured for Germany against Finland, Shkodran Mustafi is expected to make his debut in the heart of what looks like a strong back four for Wenger.
Further forward, Aaron Ramsey could return to the side, but is likely to remain on the bench, Alex Iwobi could come in for either Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or Theo Walcott, whilst Wenger has to make the decision of whether to leave Alexis Sanchez up front or move him to the wing and allow Olivier Giroud or Lucas Perez to come in up front. Expect the line-up to be very similar to the one that beat Watford.
Southampton should be welcoming back Ryan Bertrand to the defence, although Matt Targett will continue to deputise if the Englishman is injured. Expect Oriol Romeu to start to add some bite in midfield, whilst Sofiane Boufal will miss the next month with a knee injury.
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Southampton’s season only really got going last season when Ryan Bertrand returned to the side, so if the Englishman is back in the line up expect a more competitive Saints performance. However, things haven’t really gelled for them yet and they are really missing the cover of Victor Wanyama in midfield. If Arsenal play like they did against Watford they will have enough to overcome their opponents and should run out as one or two goal winners.
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