Arsenal had better win this one. Mikel Arteta’s squad selection for Saturday’s FA Cup match, also away to Southampton, wasn’t so much of a signal that the Gunners were prioritizing the Premier League over the cup as it was a giant, flashing neon light. He rotated his starting 11 heavily. Saints’ boss Ralph Hasenhuttl did not. Southampton’s preferred 11 will mostly be on short rest. Arsenal’s will not. The Gunners need all three points.
Unfortunately, Arsenal have hit a bit of a spell of bad “luck” if you will. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who was a late scratch at the weekend because of a personal, family issue, will again miss out for the same reason. Kieran Tierney’s calf has flared up again, and he’s facing a late fitness test. Pablo Mari and Dani Ceballos are both out. And obviously Martin Ødegaard, whose loan to North London has yet to be officially confirmed, is not available.
Southampton aren’t faring much better, fortunately (?). Both first-choice fullbacks, Ryan Bertrand and Kyle Walker-Peters are out. Oriol Romeu and Will Smallbone are both out. Nathan Redmond is expected to make the bench but not be fit enough to start.
I don’t think the absences will change much about how Southampton will look to play. They will still try to hit on the break and take advantage of set pieces. Fortunately, Arsenal have been quite good defending free kicks this season, but James Ward-Prowse’s delivery is a different beast. The Gunners should, as always really, avoid giving away silly fouls.
I expect Alexandre Lacazette to lead the line for Arsenal today with Gabriel Martinelli, Emile Smith Rowe, and Bukayo Saka behind him, and Nathan agreed in his Predicted XI. If Kieran Tierney can’t go, there’s a chance Bukayo Saka gets shifted to left back, which would see either Willian or Nicolas Pepe start on the right. Not that my opinion really matters, but I’d rather keep Saka on the right side of the forward line and play Cedric or Ainsley Maitland-Niles on the left side of the defense. Arsenal need Saka’s attacking threat to help generate a meaningful number of chances and balance the attack.
Arsenal - Leno, Bellerin, David Luiz, Holding, Cedric, Xhaka, Partey, Saka, Smith Rowe, Pepe, Lacazette
Five changes from Saturday— Arsenal (@Arsenal) January 26, 2021
➡️ David Luiz, Partey, Smith Rowe, Saka, Lacazette
⬅️ Gabriel, Elneny, Willian, Martinelli, Nketiah#SOUARS
Southampton - McCarthy, Valery, Stephens, Bednarek, Vokins, Diallo, Ward-Prowse, Armstrong, Walcott, Ings, Adams
@Alex_Macca23 returns— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) January 26, 2021
Jake Vokins plays
Here's tonight's #SaintsFC team for the meeting with #AFC: pic.twitter.com/Sbys3zBwN2
WHAT: Arsenal at Southampton
WHERE: St. Mary’s Stadium
WHEN: Tuesday, January 26th, 12:15 PM PT | 3:15 PM ET | 8:15 PM BT
US TV: Peacock only.
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