Arsene Wenger will likely apply some minor rotation to the side that beat West Ham United 2-1 on Sunday with one change in particular forced through injury.
The main absentee is Danny Welbeck who is struggling with a thigh problem according to the Arsenal boss and looks likely to sit this one out. With Olivier Giroud suspended for another two games it appears Yaya Sanogo will get the nod up front but more on that later.
At the back Wenger will unlikely make many changes if he can help it. Laurent Koscielny’s return was a huge boost and should he be fully recovered by New Years Day he should get the nod again. Kieran Gibbs should replace Nacho Monreal however who despite an improved second half, was run ragged in the first against West Ham.
Tomas Rosicky will likely slot in for Francis Coquelin who had an outstanding game I must say. The Frenchman does not offer too much going forward and the Gunners midfield could benefit from a bit more dynamism from Rosicky who was excellent against QPR on Boxing Day. Arsenal lacked bite in the middle of the park when they played the Saints in earlier this month and the Czech can certainly rectify that.
Further forward we should see Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain start against his former club, he was excellent on Sunday. Santi Cazorla will play in behind the striker and the rest is a bit of a guessing game. Alexis Sanchez could well be played through the middle which would allow Theo Walcott to start on the left who is ‘ready’ to play according to the boss. Now that’s an attacking lineup to scare anyone out of their wits.
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Yaya Sanogo could be thrown in up front however which will likely mean Alexis would take up a position on the left. This seems a little more like a Wenger-ish move and he may have Olivier Giroud’s impact fresh in his mind from the last time these sides met where a more physical, powerful presence up front changed the game. That said, Alexis played a fair few minutes in that fixture through the middle..
With the FA Cup fixture against Hull City on the horizon this weekend, players such as Gibbs, Alexis, Koscielny and Oxlade-Chamberlain could be utilized against Southampton with a view to be rested in the Cup tie.
Here is the predicted lineup:
Who do you think will start? Share your thoughts below