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Preview: Arsenal v Saints, team news, teenager to start + prediction
Arsenal welcome Southampton to the Emirates this evening in the quarter finals of the EFL Cup.
So far, the ‘November curse’ hasn’t really come to fruition as we remain unbeaten in all competitions since the opening weekend of the season and took five points from a possible nine in the league – which included games against Spurs and Man Utd.
However, that could change if we’re dumped out the League Cup tonight as we’re the second favourites to win the competition and are expected to book our place in the semi finals with a win this evening, so it would be a big disappointment if we’re knocked out.
Sunday’s 3-1 victory over Bournemouth ended a run of three consecutive draws and it kept us in touch at the top of the table with leaders Chelsea just three points ahead so we’re right in the mix for the title.
But tonight’s all about the League Cup and Arsene Wenger going one step closer to winning the only domestic trophy that’s alluded him during his 20 years in north London.
Lucas Perez returns to the squad after recovering from an ankle injury that’s kept him out for five weeks but Olivier Giroud has been ruled out with a groin injury that he picked up at the weekend.
Santi Cazorla remains out with an Achilles injury while Hector Bellerin is still a few weeks away from returning from his ankle ligament problem so they remain out along with Per Mertesacker, Danny Welbeck and Chuba Akpom.
Mathieu Debuchy’s latest comeback didn’t last long as he limped out of the Bournemouth win with a hamstring injury so Carl Jenkinson is expected to start at right-back.
The boss is expected to ring the changes once again in the EFL Cup with all our big hitters being rested. Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi, Petr Cech, Nacho Monreal and Theo Waclott are among those set to be left out.
Emi Martinez has started in the previous rounds so he should start in goal while 18-year-old Jeff Reine-Adelaide is expected to be given another chance to impress in attack.
Saints boss Claude Puel has also vowed to field a weakened side for the game but Sofiane Boufal and Steven Davis are pushing for recalls after missing the win over Everton on Sunday.
The back five almost picks itself tonight but it’s going to be interesting to see who Wenger goes for in midfield as we don’t really have a settled first choice pairing right now.
Given that Xhaka and Elneny started on Sunday you’d think they will be rested with Coquelin expected to come in after being an unused sub at the weekend.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles has played in the previous rounds of the competition so he could get another run out but Ramsey only played 15 minutes against Bournemouth so I’d like to see him start.
Perez is now fit to start up front while I’d go with The Ox and Iwobi in attack along with Adelaide.
This would be my line-up:
It’s always tricky to predict what kind of performance we’ll get when we make wholesale changes to the starting eleven but the expected line-up is still packed with quality so I’m still confident we can get a positive result tonight. If Southampton also field a weakened team, then our back-up players should be stronger than theirs so I’m backing the boys to edge it 2-1. Arsenal 2-1 Southampton