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Trio get rare starts, Ozil/Sanchez out: My Arsenal XI vs Southampton
Arsenal take on Southampton at St Mary’s Stadium on Saturday evening with a place in the fifth round of the FA Cup awaiting the victors. This is the team I’d like to see Arsene Wenger go with….
Ospina is our FA Cup keeper for this season and he hasn’t let us down when given the chance so he’ll be back between the sticks this weekend.
Defence: Bellerin, Mustafi, Gabriel, Gibbs
Bellerin is back in contention after recovering from an ankle injury so the young Spaniard should come in at right-back. That would allow Gabriel to move back in to the middle of defence after he impressed while deputising for Hector in recent weeks.
I think we need to play one of our usual first choice centre-backs against a tough Saints side so I’d go with Mustafi and give Koscielny a rest while I’d also like to see Gibbs come in to make a rare start at left-back.
Midfield: Oxlade-Chamberlain, Coquelin
Xhaka is set to start a four-game ban following his sending off against Burnley last week so with Elneny at the AFCON and Cazorla still out injured, we don’t have too many options in midfield.
It looks like Ramsey is going to be playing alongside Coquelin for the foreseeable future so it would be a risk to play them both this weekend, especially with a huge game against Chelsea coming up next weekend.
Therefore, I’d go with Coquelin as he should be fresh having just returned from injury but I’d be tempted to give Oxlade-Chamberlain a run out in the middle of the park. He’s played there plenty of times and Wenger has previously suggested it will be The Ox’s long-term position so let’s give him a go against Southampton and rest Ramsey.
Attack: Walcott, Iwobi, Lucas, Welbeck
There should be plenty of changes in attack with Ozil, Sanchez and Giroud all rested ahead of the Watford game on Tuesday night.
Walcott is back after recovering from a calf injury so he should certainly start on the right wing while Perez deserves a rare start in attack after being given very few chances to impress this season.
I’d go Iwobi in the No.10 role while rumour has it that Arsene is ready to hand Welbeck his first start of the season. The 26-year-old has made three cameo appearances off the bench in recent weeks after recovering from a serious knee injury so if he’s now ready to start, then I’m all for it.
This would be my line-up: