For a second Sunday running, the Gunners welcome a red and white stripped Premier League struggler to The Emirates for an early afternoon kick around. After putting three past Stoke last Sunday, it should be more of the same again.
However, game play needs to improve based the first sixty minutes against Stoke. There was no urgency and what we saw was pretty dire, and at times Xherdan Shaqiri caused Koscielny and co. real trouble. But, as we saw Thursday night, the team is more than capable of adding a cutting-edge to their game as we brushed past CSKA Moscow with an impressive first half blitz. Shots and goals galore in an action-packed opening forty-five, with a double each for Ramsey and Lacazette giving Arsenal one foot in a first European semi-final tie since 2009.
With the results of David Ospina’s training ground injury coming back as a three-week absence, he is out of the squad to face Southampton. After limping off against CSKA Moscow, Henrikh Mkhitaryan is also out of the match. With an assessment and diagnosis to come, he may also miss out on the Europa League second leg next Thursday as well – beyond that, remains to be seen at present. However, this does allow Wenger to finally start Aubameyang and Lacazette together for the first time. Having bought both for an approximate £90 million combined, and with both clearly in-form, Wenger can’t not start both. At home, against a struggling side who lack confidence, there is absolutely no reason why our hot-shot strikers should not start in tandem – Aubameyang from the left and Lacazette through the middle. Combined with Mesut Ozil in a front three, the movement and dynamism between them will be unplayable. Interchanging, creativity and finishing to match, goals are expected.
Arguably in the form of his life, Aaron Ramsey is one of the first names on the team sheet, and so it should be. The combination of Xhaka, Wilshere and Ramsey in a midfield trio has the makings of a class outfit, with all aspects of midfield play being addressed extremely well in the last few weeks.
Saints currently sit 18th in the table and with two points from their last six games, there should be no reason why Arsenal can’t pump a few more goals in against them. Its typical Arsenal; the pressure is now off in the league as there’s nothing left to play for so the team turn it on and turn teams over. Struggling to score, and ultimately struggling to create, Mark Hughes’ men do look down and out, and without any real talisman in their ranks, the likelihood of them getting anything from this game is very slim. That being said, Dušan Tadić and Charlie Austin are the main threats that Saints possess. Petr Cech needs to martial and control from the back to ensure our back-line is on point to handle any such threats. Success here, should lead to another welcomed clean sheet for the Premier League all time clean sheet record holder.
With Mkhitaryan out, my expected line up is:
Prediction: 4-0 win, with goals for Aubameyang, Lacazette and Ozil.