Southampton travel to the Emirates knowing that they stifled an indifferent and below par Arsenal in their last encounter, beating them 3-2 in the process.
Arsenal will need to significantly raise their levels of intensity to stop a repeat of that outcome. The stats do favour the North London side, in a must-win match to stay in contention for the 4th place slot in the premier league.
The Gunners are unbeaten in 12 Premier League home games, winning six in a row ahead of the game. They have come from behind to earn 12 points this season, second only to Leicester’s tally of 13(as per BBC).
Alexandre Lacazette could become the first Arsenal player to score in four consecutive Premier League home matches since Robin van Persie netted in five games in a row from December 2011 to March 2012.
Southampton will again try to cut out the space that Arsenal thrive on, apply pressure and press high, in the hope that the North London club’s defence crumbles.
Unai Emery has had to deal with a phenomenal amount of injuries, which has had a major impact on their consistency and although they have a number of key players back or on the verge of returning, it’s still a relatively disrupted side.
Sokratis is likely to start in place of Koscielny, who sustained a muscle injury against Bate Borisov on Thursday in the Europa League. According to BBC, the injury is not thought to be serious and the Arsenal Captain might be in contention to make an appearance.
Guendouzi should start after a wonderful display against Bate, with his expansive passing game. The lad is becoming a joy to watch. Xhaka will also probably get the nod because of his contribution in the same game in which delivered two corners and two goals.
Ozil should start, as he not only adds creative urgency but also stability and calm. It’s unlikely that the coach and the German have buried the hatchet but it’s the coach who may need to climb down to get the best out of his midfielder at a crucial stage of the season.
Torreira has looked slightly jaded of late after a continuous period of football but Arsenal can’t afford to be without his energy and endeavour. His ability to break things up and start the Gunners off in the opposite direction could be key.
Mkhitaryan may miss out, which would be unfortunate after a couple of decent outings and Kolasinac may have to sit this one out. At present, I can’t see where Denis Suarez fits into the puzzle and he is overdue for a full 90 minutes if only to see why we paid huge money for a loan deal that has seen him play only a cameo role.
Lacazette and Aubameyang will both start and Iwobi should take up one of the flanks and the Frenchman will be firing up after notching up a suspension in the Europa League.
Preferred line up:
Bernd Leno, Monreal, Mustafi, Sokratis, Xhaka, Torreira, Iwobi, Guendouzi, Ozil, Aubameyang and Lacazette
Probable line up:
Leno, Lichtsteiner, Mustafi, Sokratis, Monreal, Torreira, Guendouzi, Xhaka, Iwobi, Aubameyang, Lacazette.
Arsenal win 3-1.
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