Southampton vs Arsenal: 4 things to watch out for | Premier League 2018-19
Arsenal travel to the Saint Mary's Stadium to take on Southampton in one of this weekend's English Premier League fixtures, with the two teams experiencing contrasting fortunes this season.
The Saints currently occupy one of the relegation spots on the table, and are in 19th position, with just a miserly 9 points from 16 games. Earlier this month, the club released a statement confirming the sack of Mark Hughes as manager of Southampton, after a string of poor results under his watch.
The sack was followed immediately by the confirmation of Ralph Hasenhuttl as manager. Hasenhuttl was the coach of German side Ingolstadt, and led them to be promoted to the Bundesliga in 2014-15, and also was the coach of RB Leipzig who eventually clinched runners-up place behind champions Bayern Munich two seasons ago.
However, his first game in charge of the Premier League side against Cardiff City ended in a 1-0 defeat.
On the other hand, the visitors are enjoying a renaissance under new manager Unai Emery. The Gunners are still unbeaten in all competitions since they lost to Chelsea on matchday 2 of the season.
This is definitely going to be an interesting tie. One team will be fighting very hard not to lose due to the danger of being relegated, and the other are looking to continue to their fine form this season.
Lets take a look at 4 things to look out for in the game.
#1 The makeshift defence of Arsenal
Unai Emery has a negative selection headache in defence. First choice defenders, Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi are out.
They both received their fifth booking of the season against Huddersfield Town at the Emirates last week, and have been suspended by the FA for this game.
Rob Holding has also been ruled out of the season due to the injury he sustained last week against Manchester United.
Laurent Koscielny, who made his return from injury against Qarabag, is the only recognised first team centre back, while Dinos Mavropanos still out injured, leaving only Nacho Monreal as another player who can deputise at centre back.
It is still not certain if Arsenal's #1 captain will start or play any part in the game against Southampton.
This is what Emery said about Laurent Koscielny:
Today is another step for [Koscielny]," Emery told reporters.
"We need to [find out] tomorrow and Saturday how he is going to feel after this match to see if he can help us on the pitch on Sunday.
"It is good he has recovered and in a good time. Every supporter and player from Arsenal is happy.
"He can take confidence again, take rhythm and then we are going to continue our process. Maybe [he can play] Sunday, but I want to wait to see how he responds
Hopefully Koscielny will be fit enough to start Saturday's game alongside Nacho Monreal and Stephan Lichtsteiner in the event Emery chooses to play a back three.