Arsenal will be looking to build some momentum after they returned to winning ways in the league on Saturday. A professional performance saw them win 1-0 at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday afternoon, and manager Arsene Wengerwill be keen to build on that with the visit of high flying Southampton on Wednesday evening.
Wenger’s side have now kept two clean sheets in their last two games with 20-year-old Emiliano Martinez who has deputised for Arsenal no.1 Wojciech Szczesnyand has made some very important saves in those performances.
Momentum is key for Arsenal and they know better than most that a good run around the Christmas period of fixtures can catapult you into the top four and give you a great chance at the “business” end of the season.
Arsenal are currently sixth and despite their indifferent form are only two points off of a Champions league qualification place but with Tottenham only below them in seventh on goal difference, this is a vital time for Arsenal and it is imperative they put together a run of results.
With so much unrest in the stands at the Emirates the key to Wednesday night is a good start and three points, failure to do so we will see more pressure mount from sections of the Arsenal support and more questions will follow about Wenger’s future.
Southampton have been this season’s surprise so far, Ronald Koeman’s transition has been seamless. When Mauricio Pochettino left in the Summer along with Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Rickie Lambert (Liverpool), Dejan Lovren(Liverpool), Luke Shaw (Manchester United) and Calum Chambers many tipped the Saints for relegation.
Koeman has brought a sense of calm to proceedings and has continued the good work that started with Nigel Adkins and then Pochettino but somehow has increased the level of performance even more.
Southampton are currently 3rd and have taken 26 points from a possible 39 and are definitely the ones to watch this season. Squad additions were always going to be massively important and with the signings of Dusan Tadic and Graziano Pellethey have stolen a march on the “orthodox” top four and proved a lot of doubters wrong.
The one question mark surrounding Southampton is their squad, they have been fortunate to have a settle lineup thus far and with the recent 3-0 loss to Manchester City at St Mary’s it will be important they bounce back at the Emirates.
Things don’t get any easier for Arsene Wenger on the injury front with both Kieran Gibbs and Nacho Monreal picking up knocks against West Brom, this leaves them without a recognised left back and Mathieu Flamini looks likely to step into that void. There does not appear to be any further injury concerns with Oxlade-Chamberlain expected to shake off his knock and Yaya Sanogo expected to return to the squad. However there are still a long list that are unavailable; Wojciech Szczesny, David Ospina, Mathieu Debuchy, Mikel Arteta, Theo Walcott, Abou Diaby and Mesut Ozil.
Koeman is expected to go with a similar side that lost to Manchester City on Sunday as he is still without Jay Rodriguez who suffered a anterior cruciate ligament injury last campaign. Sam Gallagher (knee), James Ward-Prowse (ankle) and Morgan Schneiderlin (hip/thigh) are also missing for the trip.
Southampton took the spoils last time they met at the Emirates in a 2-1 win in the League cup but in the League they have not won at Arsenal since 1987 back when it was known as the old First Division.
Arsenal have a impressive record against Southampton, out of the last 38 games played at home they have won 23 of those giving them a win percentage of 60.53% this fixture has also seen 12 draws and just the three Southampton victories.
Martinez, Chambers, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Flamini, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sanchez, Cazorla, Welbeck, Giroud
Forster, Clyne, Fonte, Alderweireld, Bertrand, Wanyama, Cork, Tadic, Davis, Mane, Pelle.
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