Arsenal return to Premier League action with an away tie to Southampton, where they’ll be looking to continue their 22 game unbeaten streak.
Arsenal beat Huddersfield 1-0 last time out, however, they are experiencing a defensive crisis after both Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis Papastathopoulos picked up suspensions after accumulating five yellow card this season.
Southampton however, lost 1-0 to Cardiff City. But can look forward to the return of striking duo, Shane Long and Danny Ings.
The two teams are experiencing very different fortunes this season – with Arsenal in 5th position compared the Saints’, who are in 19th.
Southampton have several key players returning, with full-back Cedric Soares recovering after missing the defeat against Cardiff with a calf injury.
Forwards Danny Ings and Shane Long, who have been injured since early November, are also in contention.
Centre back duo Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi are both suspended after they picked up their fifth booking of the campaign last weekend.
Aaron Ramsey is set to return after missing two games with an ankle injury.
Aaron Ramsey’s 250:
Should he feature against Southampton, Aaron Ramsey will make his 250th appearance in the Premier League. Now 27, Ramsey made his debut ten years ago against blackburn in a 4 – 0 win. In these years the Welshman has scored 37 and added 46 assists.
Only 10 players have ever played more often in the competition for Arsenal. No-one has played for the Gunners more often since he made his debut. He needs to play just seven more times to overtake Tony Adams and enter the club’s top ten for all-time Premier League appearances.
With this, Ramsey will be able to leave the club in the summer knowing he has been one of the clubs best players since the move to the Emirates.
What to watch out for:
- Probably not the first half – It has not gone under the radar that Arsenal are yet to lead at the break this season. They have only scored nine times in the first 45, and would be all the way down in 19th if there was no second half.
- Unai Emery and his substitutions – You may have also heard about the amount of changes that the Spaniard has made before the second – the leagues highest at 14. But whether he does it because he doesn’t know how to set this team up from the start, or he’s a man of change, it is working for the Arsenal man.
- Mesut Özil – Part time Fortnite king, full time football genius! The assist king is back! Whether he is your ‘cup of tea’ or not, the Germans creative presence has been severely missed over the past couple of games, and with Southamptons defending being suspect at times, he may just have that special something to make it 23 games unbeaten.
From the Dugout:
Arsenal head coach Unai Emery explained his ambitions for this season, “We are fifth and our mind is focused on being in the first four positions. I think we are doing our way and in one process improving, but the reality is that we need more.
“I think the players are open to listening to us about our new tactical work with our analysis in videos. We need to do this work quickly, but we also need patience. We are improving step by step.” (BBC)
Whereas, new Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl seemed wary of this weekends opponents, “I hope we will see on Sunday a team who knows exactly what they have to do and will make it as difficult as possible for Arsenal.
“They are very flexible and it is not surprising me that for two months they didn’t lose a match. (BBC)
Southampton 1 – 3 Arsenal
Arsenal: Leno; Bellerin, Koscielny, Monreal, Kolasinac; Torreira, Xhaka; Mkhitaryan, Özil, Iwobi; Aubameyang.
Southampton: McCarthy; Cedric, Bednarek, Vestergaard, Targett; Hojbjerg, Romeu, Lemina; Armstrong, Redmond; Ings.