Following back-to-back defeats Arsenal will be anxious to get on the board when they visit St Mary’s Stadium for a Premier League clash against Southampton. Whereas the hosts come into this match on the back of a morale-boosting 3-0 win away at Norwich.
Good day one and all
Mikel Arteta had a relatively good start to his tenure as Gunners boss and then came the lockdown. Since the restart we went from a team on an unbeaten league run in 2020 and without defeat on our travels since the 9th November to one that has gone astray. To compound matters even further we also lost a few key players to injury.
Needless to say, criticism has been swift with the same old questions being asked about our “mental strength”, sloppiness in defence and whatnot. So if Mikel wants to salvage this season, well, a serious rethink is required.
In our 180 minutes of football post-lockdown we scored just one goal, but it’s not as if we didn’t had chances. However, in both games we lost our way after half time as those chances were in short supply with us forced on the backfoot. Ergo we need the guile and creativity that both Granit Xhaka and one Mesut Özil brings to our midfield.
In our last game we also lost our heads a bit. We can’t be heading into the final stretch of this campaign getting distracted so easily, because we simply cannot afford anymore slip-ups.
Wouldn’t Southampton just love to pile on the misery.
When we played the Saints back in November they were bottom of the table and Ralph Hasenhuttl’s job as head-coach appeared to be on line, but his bosses stuck by him and they have seen a turnaround since. To put this in perspective, a win for them tonight will move them level on points with the Gunners. And they certainly will go for it, especially after the rampant mood they were in last Friday at Norwich.
The hosts tend to do well in this fixture at St Mary’s, losing just once when we travelled their the last five times. This is something that Mikel would want to change and tonight will be a good start.
Bernd Leno’s injury is not as severe as initially feared but he will miss the rest of the season. Also Gabriel Martinelli who suffered a knee injury in training.
Granit Xhaka and Sokratis are back in full training but their availability would be determined by late fitness tests.
With David Luiz suspended and others still in the treatment room, Mikel has little room to manoeuvre in terms of selection, however, Özil should come back into the side.
This game could be lot closer than one would like with Mikel expecting a very physical encounter. That said, I wouldn’t bet against the Gunners’ determination to pull this one over the line. COYG!