Arsenal vs Southampton
Saturday 15th September 2012
Kick off – 15:00pm uk
Team News And Tactical Brief
With the involvement of so many players in International duty, Wenger has his hands full as far as the selection headache is concerned. He needs to make quite a few decisions on resting players, unless he is blind to past season injury records. Thomas Vermaelen, Per Mertesacker, Lukas Podolski, Johan Djourou, Theo Walcott, Abou Diaby, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gervinho, Aaron Ramsey, Andrey Arshavin and Santi Cazorla have all played some minutes of football in the international break, and might be tested against Southampton.
As far as injury news are concerned, Abou Diaby, (surprise surprise!) has picked up a small knock, understandably a different one from his earlier injury. He might not be risked for this game. Aaron Ramsey, who has played deep in the midfield in the last season, can fill in for the lanky Frenchman. Arsene also has the option of trying out Coquellin in the middle of the park alongside Arteta. He can even make Oxlade-Chamberlain play there, but that will be a risky ploy with the young Englishman having played so much of football over the last few weeks.
He might be tempted to start Giroud on top, so that he can exercise his ghosts of scoring a goal, and with Southampton being a bogey team for all famous Arsenal strikers to kill the duck, this might be the right opportunity for the Frenchman. With Walcott carrying some sort of virus, it is almost certain that he will be rested for the game, which means Gervinho, often ineffective on the right hand side, might start the game there, with Podolski guarding the left wing.
At the back, Koscielny, Arsenal’s best defender of last season, might be given his season debut, though it is very tempting to hold on to the back two who has kept three consecutive clean sheets. Jenkinson, in the absence of Sagna, and Gibbs will be fulfilling usual full back duties. With Szczesny back from his back injury, he is expected to start ahead of Vito Mannone.
Probable Starting Lineup (4-2-3-1): Szczesny(GK); Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Ramsey, Arteta; Cazorla, Podolski, Gervinho, Giroud
Southampton threw away a 2-1 lead at home to Manchester United, where, in fact, they got a taste of ‘Arsenal’, as former Gunner van Persie smashed a hattrick to kill all hopes of them picking any points from the fixture. Having yet to pick up a point in the league, Southampton, will look to, at least pick one from The Emirates. There have been plenty of plaudits for the performance that The Saints have put together in these few games in the league, they just need to convert that hard work to points to stay afloat this season – it won’t be easy!
Nigel Adkins’ men will do good if they can unsettle Arsenal’s defense, one that has been untouchable this season, with three clean sheets to their credit. Southampton captain, Adam Lallana, meanwhile, made his England debut, in the recently concluded game against Ukraine, showing how good he has been for The Saints. After eight years, Southampton will be traveling to Arsenal, a first time to their relatively new Emirates stadium.
Though Southampton have lost all their games so far, Wenger is not taking them lightly. In fact, Wenger considers Nigel Adkins’ side to be a serious threat.
“They were impressive in the two games I’ve seen. The one against Man City and the one against Man United. In the end you wondered how they lost both games, so we are on alert because we know it is a team who plays with a positive attitude and can score goals.”
Along with the above mentioned captain of the team, one man who can change games with moments of magic is Rickie Lambert. The tall striker is a prolific goal-scorer and can cause a lot of headache if not marked properly. Jason Puncheon, on the right wing, has a mean delivery, case in point, the last game against Manchester United. His crosses need to be blocked by Gibbs if Arsenal want to avoid a lot of aerial defending.
Probable Starting Lineup (4-5-1): Kevin Davis; Daniel Fox, Hooiveld, Fonte, Nathaniel Clyne; Lallana, Puncheon, Ward-Prowse, Schneiderlin, Steven Davis; Rickie Lambert
Southampton’s last trip to Arsenal was a 2-2 draw, back in 2004.
Pennant and Pires, both hit hattricks in a demolition at Highbury, as Arsenal beat Southampton 6-1, in 2003.
Rickie Lambert has now scored 80 goals in 130 appearances for The Saints, an incredible goals/games ratio.
Player to Watch Out For
Mikel Arteta (Arsenal)
Arsenal’s Machine – Arteta
The Arsenal vice-captain is probably playing the best football of his life right now, at Arsenal. He has been asked to do most of the ‘dirty work’ after the departure of Alex Song to Barcelona. Arteta, who forms a formidable partnership with countryman Cazorla in the middle of the park, is capable of keeping the ball for long spells of the game and making the game flow with proper rhythm. Arteta will be a key man this season, him staying injury-free is very important to Arsenal if they are to hope for any silverware.
My Score Prediction
Arsenal 2 Southampton 0