Match Preview: Arsenal vs. Southampton

Date: Saturday 10th September 2016
Location: Emirates Stadium, London
Competition: Barclays Premier League
Kick-Off: 15:00 BST

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To pick up where they left off will be Arsenal’s goal this weekend, coming into their home clash versus Southampton off the back of a 3-1 win against Watford before the international break, as the winless Saints currently sit 15th in the Premier League table.

A victory for the Gunners will see themselves close in on at least one of their Mancunian title rivals, both currently five points ahead of Arsène Wenger’s side, as Manchester United host Manchester City in Saturday’s early kick-off.

The north Londoners can look towards a result at home with good eyes, with the Saints’ last win away to Arsenal in the league coming in 1988, but the Gunners have failed to beat the South coast club in each of their last three meetings, including last season’s 4-0 Boxing Day defeat at the St. Mary’s Stadium and the 0-0 deadlock at the Emirates Stadium back in February of this year.

Southampton’s star in the last encounter between the two clubs, Fraser Forster, was forced to pull out of international duty with England last week due to an arm injury, but the goalkeeper should be ready to take on Arsenal this weekend.

New signing Sofiane Boufal won’t be so lucky, however, as he regains fitness following an injury sustained during his time with Lille, meanwhile Dutch centre back Virgil van Dijk and Ryan Bertrand are also doubts ahead of Saturday’s clash.

Contrarily, Arsenal could welcome back both Nacho Monreal and Alex Iwobi to the first team squad, whereas Saturday’s clash is likely to come too soon for Aaron Ramsey, who resumed light training this week following his hamstring troubles last month.

New boy Skhodran Mustafi should be in line for his Arsenal debut after signing from Valencia for £35 million in the final days of the transfer window, despite the solid displays by ex-Bolton Wanderers man Rob Holding, but Arsenal’s other latest recruit, Lucas Pérez, may see Olivier Giroud pip him to the first team on this occasion following the latter’s return to action on international duty with France.

The introduction of Giroud is likely to shake-up the Gunners’ front line, with Alexis Sánchez, if in good condition, operating in a more familiar role out wide. The Chilean arrived in London late on Thursday night after international duty, as did David Ospina, so he’s more than likely to miss out on a spot in the starting XI at the very least.

Wenger is likely to opt for Theo Walcott over Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the opposing flank on the basis of Arsenal’s latest Premier League win, leaving the latter to battle with Iwobi or even Lucas on the left wing in Sánchez’s absence, meanwhile Santi Cazorla might well slot in next to Granit Xhaka at the base of midfield for a third consecutive game.

Unavailable: Gabriel, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Ramsey, Welbeck (injury)

Predicted XI: Petr Čech; Héctor Bellerín, Shkodran Mustafi, Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal; Granit Xhaka, Santi Cazorla; Theo Walcott, Mesut Özil, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain; Olivier Giroud.

Patrick Ribeiro

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