Premier League 2018-19: Predicted Arsenal XI vs Southampton
After making light work of Qarabag in their Europa league fixture, Arsenal resume their Premier League campaign with an away trip to St. Mary’s Stadium.
Unai Emery’s men will face a Southampton side that is languishing in the relegation zone. The Saints have a new boss at the helm in the form of Ralph Hasenhuttl, who will be eager to make a statement by halting the Gunners’ momentum.
Arsenal, on the other hand, will be looking to keep their winning run going and close the gap between themselves and their top four rivals.
Here is how they are expected to line up against the Saints in a 3-5-2 formation.
No surprises here as Bernd Leno will keep his starting spot ahead of the veteran Petr Cech, who didn’t feature against Qarabag. The former Bayer Leverkusen stopper is a reliable presence between the sticks, although he has to stop making mistakes the kind of which have led to a couple of goals in recent fixtures.
Due to the suspensions of Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi and with Rob Holding’s season all but over owing to an injury, the Gunners have limited options in defence.
The game against Qarabag was Laurent Koscielny’s first game of the season, and the skipper is in line to start at the St. Mary’s. A lot will depend on how the Frenchman leads the defence as Emery has no other option but to field a makeshift defence.
Nacho Monreal has the experience of playing as the central defender alongside Koscielny in the past, and his experience will be called upon along with Stephan Lichtsteiner, who was brought on as a central defender against Manchester United, to play in a three-man defence.
# Wing backs
Hector Bellerin and Sead Kolasinac are the first choice wingbacks, with the latter in particular emerging as the creator in chief for the Gunners. The Bosnian’s marauding runs and cutbacks have been vital in the games of late, but his defensive frailties are being exposed frequently.
With enough cover in the form of Monreal in the defence, Emery will hope that the Bosnian would boss the flank.
Bellerin is equally devastating on the right with his pace and runs, and he is expected to provide adequate help to Lichtsteiner in defence.
Lucas Torreira and Granit Xhaka were rested against Qarabag, and the pair is expected to be restored in the starting XI. They have been a force to reckon with in the unbeaten run, with Torreira quickly becoming a cult hero amongst the Emirates faithful.
Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil and Matteo Guendouzi are vying for the third spot in the midfield. Seeing as how the Gunners struggled to create anything in the first half against Huddersfield, Emery will likely restore Aaron Ramsey following his heroics in the North London derby and against Manchester United.
Arsenal’s two record signings, Pierre- Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, started up top against Huddersfield with both of them struggling to make any sort of impact. The duo endured a frustrating evening with Lacazette hauled off at halftime.
They are expected to start together again as the front two ahead of the League cup clash against their arch-rivals Tottenham.