EPL: Arsenal v Southampton Preview

EPL-Arsenal-Southampton-Preview

Our writer previews the eye-catching clash between Arsenal and Southampton on Saturday 10 September.

The international break probably came at the worst possible time for Arsene Wenger's Gunners with a devastating performance against Watford, the week prior to the break, allaying some of the doubt surrounding his continued control of the club. The veteran manager will now be hoping that the international window doesn't end up stifling his side's momentum.

Claude Puel’s side are facing a period of adjustment. Seemingly a perpetual work in progress, Southampton’s fans seem somewhat less than enthused about this year’s reinforcements, piling more pressure on Puel.


Arsenal v Southampton | Saturday 10 September | Emirates Stadium | 16:00

To Win (90 Mins)Arsenal 11/20 | Draw 31/10 | Southampton 47/10


Arsenal

The late purchase of Shkodran Mustafi is perhaps one of the most critical purchases that Wenger has made in recent years. Along with the purchase of Petr Cech, it shows a dedicated attempt to fortify the backline and address fundamental defensive issues. Lucas Perez will likely be on the bench, while a host of players are back in line for match consideration.

Aaron Ramsay is back, but knowing Wenger I doubt he will rush him back into the first eleven. The same probably goes for Alex Iwobi. I think that Wenger may be inclined to let Olivier Giroud go straight back into the side after a lengthy layoff - eager to re-assimilate the Frenchman into what is shaping to be a formidable attacking unit.

Granit Xhaka showed his petulant side on international duty, receiving a red card against Portugal. Wenger will welcome that sort of tenacity in the midfield area - especially if he chooses to play Santi Cazorla alongside him in the heart of midfield.

Playing at home against a vulnerable Southampton side, I feel that he may opt for a more positive approach. If Giroud is to return, I expect that Walcott will be the one to miss out. Wenger has shown a preference for Chamberlain and one starts to wonder whether Walcott would do well to take a leaf out of Jack Wilshere’s book and duck out on loan come the January transfer window.



Southampton 
Southampton actually enjoy a decent record against the Gunners of late, losing only once in their last six encounters. But this Arsenal side may prove a different proposition. Fraser Forster was replaced by Alex McCarthy in the England squad following injury and Forster may continue to deputize at club level. Fonte and Van Dijk will have a busy afternoon ahead of them, but either one of them may fancy themselves to get on the end of something in the opposite box.

I feel that Targett and Soares could be in for extremely long afternoons. Romeu and Hojbjerg will only be able to provide so much cover with the dynamic movement that Arsenal possess. Davies will no doubt sit back and try to marshal the midfield as best he can.

Southampton pose a threat on the counterattack, with Nathan Redmond - one of my personal favourite buys of the window - has pace and is direct. He almost has something of the young Theo Walcott about him. Charlie Austin provides a focal point for route one and has a surprisingly deft touch, while Dusan Tadic is similarly well suited to the counter.

But I just can’t see the Saints having enough opportunities to break into this match. Davies will be too deep in an attempt to support Romeu and Hojbjerg and Charlie Austin may end up resembling Tom Hanks in Castaway by the time this is done.


Verdict: Arsenal on the Halftime-Fulltime Double 13/10
 I really feel like this Arsenal side is on the brink of an emphatic performance. Southampton seem the perfect fit for an Arsenal demolition. They try to play in similar patterns but just don’t have the same man for man quality.  

Written by Damien Kayat @Hollywoodbets

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