Arsenal’s busy winter schedule continues as they head south to take on the Saints.
Southampton have a new coach. The match with Arsenal will be Ralph Hasenhüttl’s second in the league, and his first at St. Mary’s Stadium, and he has his work cut out for him—with just over half of the season left, Southampton have a total of nine points, and they sit 19th in the table, with only goal difference keeping them from being dead last. The Saints have to play three of the top six during the festive period, plus Huddersfield, with whom they are in a relegation scrap.
The Gunners’ lineup of festive fixtures is...actually not that bad. The only ultra-tough game will be against Liverpool in the league on December 29—otherwise, they’ll play a Carabao Cup game against Tottenham, and league games against Burnley, Brighton, and Fulham, and of course Southampton today. Arsenal can bag a bunch of points from those games, if they can stay healthy.
Speaking of health, they’re almost out of center backs. Rob Holding’s season is over after an ACL tear, Dinos Mavropanos is still out with a persistent groin injury, and Skhodran Mustafi has a hamstring problem. On top of that, Sokratis has a one-match suspension to serve for yellow card accumulation (and so, for good measure, does Mustafi). That leaves Unai Emery with Laurent Koscielny, back on the pitch at last, as the only true center back available. Nacho Monreal or Stephan Lichtsteiner, or both, will have to fill in for everyone else.
Farther up the pitch, Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Özil are both available to play, back from an ankle knock and a back spasm, respectively. Arsenal have also brought youngster Bukayo Saka with them to Southampton after his impressive Europa League outing.
Southampton will probably have a few more starters at their disposal than Arsenal will, with regulars Shane Long, Cedric Soares, and Danny Ings questionable but not ruled out.
WHAT: Arsenal at Southampton
WHEN: Sunday, December 16th, 8:30am EST | 5:30am PST | 1:30pm GMT
WHERE: St. Mary’s Stadium
HOW TO WATCH: NBC Sports Gold
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Arsenal - Leno, Bellerin, Lichtsteiner, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Guendouzi, Torreira, Mkhitaryan, Iwobi, Aubameyang
Southampton - McCarthy, Valery, Vestergaard, Bednarek, Yosihda, Targett, Hobjerg, Romeu, Armstrong, Redmond, Ings