Saturday, 10 September 2016

Arsenal v Southampton Preview

Arsenal got their first win of the season away to Watford just before the international break and they will be looking to add to that at home to Southampton today. They were far from ready when the season started which led to only one point in their first two games, but they can no longer use that excuse. With two games a week for the rest of this month the players will have to be at their best and up to full fitness from here on.

The close of the transfer window saw the arrivals of Shkodran Mustafi and Lucas Perez and the exits of Joel Campbell, Calum Chambers and Jack Wilshere on loan. Seege Gnabry was also sold to Werder Brenen despite Arsene Wenger saying he wanted to offer him a new contract. With only a year left on his contract I can only assume he didn't want to sign a new contract and the club had no option other than to sell him.

I can understand Chambers going out on loan as he needs game time to improve his game and hopefully he can come back and make an impact at Arsenal. I can't understand Csmpbell being loaned out as he made an impact when he played last season unlike some others who are still at the club. I can only assume that the club have decided to sell him and if so they probably should have cashed in this summer. 

Wilshere is a different matter altogether and it's even stranger. He came off the bench in the two games he was fit to play in so far and there is no doubt he can have an impact on the first team this season if he can avoid injuries. He's a current England international and moving to Bournemouth on loan has to be a huge step backwards for him.

I understand his desire to play week in and week out and prove his fitness, but there is no reason he couldn't have given his all at the club. I can only assume he doesn't fancy his chances of getting into the team and he feels he has to play somewhere. I hope it goes well for him, but I have a horrible feeling Arsenal will need him because of an injury crisis at some stage, but he won't be available due to his season long loan.

Anyway, back to today and Southampton come calling in a game we really need to win. They drew the corresponding fixture 0-0 last season at a time when we were struggling to score goals and they also beat us 4-0 at their ground in the league last season. We most certainly owe them something and today has to be the day to cash in on it.

They haven't won a game yet with two home draws and a defeat away to United so far. They haven't kept a clean sheet either and they have only scored two goals in their three games. Claude Puel took the reins when Ronald Koeman left for Everton and it looks like it's going to take them a while to adjust to his requirements. 

From an Arsenal perspective we have to be aware of a trip to play PSG on Tuesdsy night in the Champions League, but that can't have an impact on today's team selection. We need to play our strongest team possible and do all we can to take the three points and try to keep pace with the Premier League pacesetters.

I would imagine the team will be very similar to the one which beat Watford 3-1 in our last game. If there are any changes I would imagine new boy Mustafi will come in for Rob Holding who has been very impressive in the last three games and we might even get to see the elusive Olivier Giroud. Alexis Sanchez has been our central striker for the first three games of the season, but the return of Giroud should see him revert to a wide role where I think he is at his best. 

The most likely player to miss out would be Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who continues to play in fits and starts. He did well when he came off the bench in the first game against Liverpool, but he hasn't really impressed since then. It's a big season for him and he needs to take his chances when they come his way, but he just doesn't seem to be doing so.

Hopefully we will take the game to Southampton from the off and play the football we are capable of playing. Granit Xhaka looks to be a great addition and the return of Mesut Ozil against Watford was the missing element we needed after failing to win the first two games. As long as we can take a fair percentage of the chances which come our way today I think we should win this one by a goal or two.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

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