Arsenal v Southampton
Barclays Premier League
Kick off: November 23, 2013 3:00 PM GMT
With another international break finally behind us we can now return to the action of the Barclays Premier League. This game-week Arsenal face the season’s surprise package so far, Southampton. The Saints currently lie in a very impressive third on the Premier League table and are only three points shy of top spot, meaning an upset could potentially mean a jump to the top of the table. However, in saying this the Saints would have to win by more that one goal and the earlier Merseyside derby would have to go their way.
Going into the match there has been good news on the injury front with Theo Walcott available for selection after recovering from abdominal surgery. The return of Walcott in my opinion is very much a welcome one with the Gunners lacking width, penetration and directness in recent weeks. Whether the Englishman starts remains doubtful as he has had no significant minutes under his belt in two months, but expect to see him to at least get on the pitch for the latter stages of the match.
Aside from usual injuries, Wenger will also not be able to call upon the services of Mathieu Flaimini after the Frenchman picked up his fifth yellow card of the season against Manchester United. This means it is almost certain that Ramsey will start alongside Arteta in midfield, particularly when you factor in Wilshere’s ankle troubles. With Rosicky also ill during the week, a starting spot could be handed to Serge Gnabry who has impressed when given the chance to shine in the first-team.
Looking at the Saints, it is important that Arsenal go into the match with no complacency. With eleven matches already gone, you can’t say the Saints have just been lucky in getting to third spot. They have recorded a great win against Liverpool at Anfield and also held Manchester United at Old Trafford, while only picking up a solitary loss all season and are currently eight games unbeaten in the Premier League.
As for Arsenal, it is important that they get back to winning ways after succumbing to a 1-0 defeat to Manchester United before the international break. That loss meant our lead at the top was cut down to two points and it is important we at least maintain hat gap at the top when we face opposition we are expected to beat. Hopefully Thierry Henry’s return to London Colney to train in the MLS off-season has boosted morale in the Arsenal camp.
Overall, Arsenal are always the favourites to come away with three points. But Southampton have a lot to fight for and will no doubt be fearless as they have been against big opposition in the past. It can only be expected that Arsenal will maintain a lions share of possession, but will be made to work hard to break through what has been the best defense in the league so far this season. I am confident however that Arsenal’s superior quality will give them the edge in the end. COYG!
Arsenal: Wilshere (doubt – ankle), Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee), Sanogo (back), Podolski (hamstring), Diaby (knee)
Southampton: Jack Cork (ankle), Guly do Prado (knee)
|Man. United 1 – Arsenal FC||BPL||Southampton 4 – Hull City 1||EPL|
|B. Dortmund 0 – Arsenal FC 1||UCL||Sunderland 2 – Southampton 1||CCUP|
|Arsenal FC 2 – Liverpool 0||BPL||Stoke City 1 – Southampton 1||EPL|
|Arsenal FC 0 – Chelsea FC 2||CCUP||Southampton 2 – Fulham 0||EPL|
|Crystal Palace 0 – Arsenal FC 2||BPL||Man. United 1 -Southampton 1||EPL|
Sagna Koscielny Mertesacker Gibbs
Arteta (c) Ramsey
Arsenal 2 Southampton 0