The matches will be flying fast and thick over the next few weeks, which isn’t the best time for Arsenal to find themselves mired in a horrendous slump. To be fair, there really isn’t a “good” time to have the worst start to a season since the mid-1970’s. But there’s not much Mikel Arteta can do about that other than pick his best lineup to face Southampton at the Emirates.
Ralph Hasenhüttl has his side playing fantastic football. The Saints sit 5th in the table. Fortunately for Arsenal, he’s got them there winning a bunch of higher-scoring matches as opposed to lockdown defense and knicking a goal. The Gunners’ struggling attack needs to face a team that can leak a goal or two to get going.
The Austrian manager is trying to frame his side as the underdogs in Wednesday’s match, but come on Ralph, nobody believes that for a second. He’s got the better record, the form team, and no injury concerns at all.
Mikel Arteta, on the other hand, is watching his list of players unavailable for selection grow longer. I really shouldn’t have said anything about the training room emptying out, should I? David Luiz is questionable with the head laceration he suffered against Wolves. Thomas Partey is expected to be out for “forthcoming matches” according to the club website, whatever that means. Gabriel Martinelli is back in full training, but likely lacking match fitness. It looks as if Sead Kolasinac and Reiss Nelson, who missed time after a training ground collision, will be available.
Hector Bellerin will serve a one-match suspension for yellow card accumulation. Granit Xhaka will serve the first of a three match ban for his red card. Nicolas Pepe is available after completing his suspension.
Bellerin and Xhaka’s absences will mean changes to the starting lineup. Nathan predicted a slew of changes in his Predicted XI. I’m not sure Mikel Arteta will change things up as much. I also wonder whether he trusts Cedric enough to play him in the Premier League or if Arteta will revert to three at the back and deploy Ainsley Maitland-Niles at RWB. I think Dani Ceballos will partner Mohamed Elneny at the base of the midfield.
Mikel Arteta said that he prefers to play quickly after a loss so that the players don’t have time to stew on the poor performance. He’s getting his wish. Fingers crossed and let’s hope Wednesday is the start of the turnaround.
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