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PREVIEW: Arsenal vs Southampton, Team News, Line-Up & Prediction
Arsenal face a huge test tonight as our injury-hit squad welcomes high-flying Southampton to the Emirates.
Saturday’s 1-0 win at West Brom was a MASSIVE result as it kept us in touch with the top four and got us back to winning ways after successive defeats in the Premier League.
We head into tonight’s fixture sitting seventh in the table but can climb to sixth with a win and be within just two points of fourth-placed Manchester United.
Arsenal’s record at home to Southampton is excellent as we’ve not lost in any of our previous 19 games, although they did knock us out of the Capital One Cup earlier in the season.
Ronald Koeman’s side have been hugely impressive this season and are currently third in the table – six points ahead of Arsenal – so victory is vital this evening if we’re to close the gap on the South Coast club.
However, we have a number of injury worries to contend with for the game with left-back a particular issue as both Kieran Gibbs and Nacho Monreal face late tests.
Monreal was forced off against West Brom with a knee injury while Gibbs finished the match limping after suffering a hip problem. Nacho looks like the most likely to be fit as he took part in training yesterday.
The Ox is also a slight doubt with an ankle problem but he was also out on the training pitch on Tuesday so should get a recall in attack.
Laurent Koscielny will be checked before kick off after starting his first game in over a month on Saturday but he’s expected to be alright.
Jack Wilshere is out for the foreseeable future after ankle surgery while Mikel Arteta is also out with a calf strain, so Mathieu Flamini and Aaron Ramsey should continue in midfield.
Wojciech Szczesny remains out with a hip injury so Emiliano Martinez will continue to deputise in goal with David Ospina still not fit enough to return.
Theo Walcott is still sidelined by a groin injury so he joins Mesut Ozil in the treatment room, while Mathieu Debuchy remains out despite being back in training.
That’s one hell of an injury list, even by Arsenal’s standards, but hopefully we should have a number of those players available again in a couple of weeks time.
As for Southampton, thankfully Morgan Schneiderlin will miss the game with a thigh injury but Jack Cork is available after recovering from illness.
Assuming Monreal and The Ox are passed fit, this is how I’d line-up…..
…if the duo are ruled out, then Bellerin will have to play at left-back while Welbeck would go back to the wing in place of the Ox with Giroud starting upfront. The Frenchman started his first game in over three months at the weekend so ideally we should give him a rest tonight as I’m not sure he has the fitness to start twice in four days just yet.
If we’re to get back among the top four then we really need to improve our home form and start beating teams at the top of the table. We’ve been behind in five of our six league games at the Emirates this season – that’s not good enough and we’re giving ourselves too much to do.
But the last two performances have been encouraging so hopefully we can keep things tight at the back and we have the quality to open them up at the other end. I’m going to back the boys to win this 2-0.
Arsenal 2-0 Southampton COYG!!!