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Arsenal vs Southampton preview | Gunners injury blow, Pepe to start + prediction

By on November 23, 2019

Arsenal desperately need to get back to winning ways when we welcome Southampton to the Emirates this afternoon.

The international break probably came at a good time for Arsenal as we were in total free-fall having failed to win any of our previous four Premier League games. The latest disappointment came with a 2-0 defeat at Leicester City after we took just two points from games against Sheffield United, Crystal Palace and Wolves.

The two-week break shouldn’t detract from the fact that the pressure is firmly on Unai Emery’s shoulders and failure to beat Southampton today should be the final nail in his coffin. Reports suggest the board want to wait until at least the New Year before reviewing his position but why wait? It’s already clear Emery isn’t the man for the job and another poor result today would only emphasise that point.

However, let’s hope Arsenal put in a decent display as we’re already eight points adrift of fourth place so we have to win this afternoon if we’re to retain any hope of finishing in the top four this season. Southampton arrive in north London sitting second from bottom so we have no excuses for not collecting a comfortable win.

Team news

Arsenal have been dealt a blow with the news that Dani Ceballos has been ruled out until mid-December with a hamstring injury but he’s our only major injury concern so the squad is in good health.

Rob Holding, Sead Kolasinac and Bukayo Saka are expected to be available despite carrying minor knocks while Emery has hinted Granit Xhaka could return to the squad for the first time since his bust up with the fans last month.

As for Southampton, they also have a healthy squad to choose from as manager Ralph Hasenhuttl has no fitness issues and Ryan Bertrand is available following suspension.

Preferred line-up

Emery has gone with a back three lately but it would be madness to stick to that system at home to Southampton. If we go with a back four I hope Holding starts alongside David Luiz and the boss has no reason not to select BOTH Kieran Tierney and Hector Bellerin this afternoon.

Lucas Torreira will hopefully be given another chance alongside Matteo Guendouzi as I hope Xhaka isn’t brought back into the starting eleven. I’d go with Mesut Ozil in the No.10 role with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Nicolas Pepe on the wings. And with Alexandre Lacazette up front we have plenty of firepower to see-off the Saints today.

This would be my line-up:

football formations

Southampton XI: McCarthy; Cedric, Bednarek, Stephens, Vestergaard, Bertrand; Ward-Prowse, Romeu, Hojbjerg; Ings, Redmond

Prediction

It’s going to be interesting to see how the Arsenal players respond following the break as they simply haven’t been playing for Emery lately. Another inept performance will tell us the boss has lost the dressing room but Emery may be saved by the fact we’re up against a poor Southampton side.

Arsenal are unbeaten in our last 24 home games against Southampton and I expect that record to be maintained today. I don’t think we’ll see free-flowing football as that’s clearly not Emery’s way, but I hope we do enough to seal a 2-0 win.

Arsenal 2-0 Southampton

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