Arsenal are probably at their collective lowest point ever since Arsene Wenger’s departure. It is not to do much with the fact that they are far off the top 4 or indeed top 6 race. It is more to do with the abrupt decline after the promise shown by Mikel Arteta in his initial days in the job.
The FA Cup triumph seems like a distant memory ambushed by weary and disinterested veterans being harboured by the supposedly young and exciting new-age manager. The Willians and the Xhakas have repeatedly let the manager down but continue to be picked ahead of young impressive academy stars.
They face Southampton in a few hours from now and we would ideally like to see Arteta take a firmer stance against absolute non-performers. Southampton are in the top 4 right now and in an excellent run of form. 10 points better off than the Gunners, Ralph Hasenhuttl will look to make that 13 after tonight’s game.
Thomas Partey is still sidelined while Granit Xhaka and Hector Bellerin are suspended for this clash. The availability of Davi Luiz (head), Reiss Nelson (head) and Sead Kolasinac (knock) is still in doubt with not much forthcoming from the manager on this front.
PREDICTED ARSENAL LINEUP VS SOUTHAMPTON (4-2-3-1)
Bernd Leno will start in goal. The Gunners’ compact shape and focus on defence aided a relatively strong start for the defence. But it was merely papering over the cracks in the team.
Nevertheless, Leno will expect a busy 90 minutes against an in-form Saints attack.
Bellerin’s absence opens up a spot at right-back in the Arsenal lineup. Cedric Soares is an option but we feel Ainsley Maitland-Niles will be handed a start especially since the team management refused a decent offer for him in the summer.
Rob Holding and Gabriel should start as the centre-back pairing in the Arsenal lineup. Luiz’s availability will have a bearing on this decision though.
Kieran Tierney will start as the left-back.
Granit Xhaka’s forced exclusion will see a midfield tweak.
The aforementioned Maitland-Niles could be an option while Joe Willock and Emile Smith-Rowe are also alternatives.
But we are going with a more experienced midfield duo of Mohamed Elneny and Dani Ceballos. Ceballos needs to exert his influence on proceedings and his creativity and nimble feet could keep the Saints midfield busy.
The sprightly Joe Willock could feature in the hole in the Arsenal lineup.
Willian has started every single game he has been available for in the league this season. But we are going out on a limb here and hoping/logically deducing that Nicolas Pepe will replace the out of sorts former Chelsea attacker.
Pepe has been decent ever since his red card against Leeds and should be handed the responsibility of providing a spark in the final third. He should start on the right in the Arsenal lineup.
Bukayo Saka should start on the left while the out of form Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang should spearhead this Arsenal lineup.