The 1-0 victory over West Brom on the weekend did little but prove that this is going to be a season of ups and downs for Arsenal. The Gunners are just as likely to go six games unbeaten as they are to suddenly slip up to inferior opposition or be caught out by a rival. So, with Southampton making the trip to the Emirates this Wednesday, it is one of those games that could go either way.
Southampton are the surprise package of the Premier League season and sit in third place in the table and are playing well. However, the omens are with Arsenal heading into the midweek fixture as the Gunners are unbeaten in their least nine league meetings against The Saints. It also helps that the south coast club were soundly beaten by Manchester City on the weekend and are running into their most difficult run of fixtures so far. However, Ronald Koeman’s team did down Arsenal in the Capital Cup this season, so this game could provide fireworks, and certainly good football.
Arsene Wenger is juggling a depleted squad Nacho Monreal (knee) and Kieran Gibbs (ankle) as well as midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee), goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny (hip) and captain Mikel Arteta (calf) are either doubtful or out. Also on the injury table are Theo Walcott (groin), Mesut Ozil (knee), Mathieu Debuchy (ankle), goalkeeper David Ospina (thigh) and Jack Wilshere (ankle).
Whatever way you look at it, the Frenchman is missing half of his key squad, so the pressure will fall on the shoulders of Olivier Giroud and once again the in-form Danny Welbeck up front. Southampton are not as injury ravaged as the North London club, but key midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin is going to sit the game out.
Southampton will be eager to prove that they can last their rapid early pace, especially after Sunday’s rude awakening in Manchester. Arsenal would provide the perfect scalp to do that, so The Gunners will have to be at their best if they are add another three points to their league tally for the season.