English Premier League clash – Sept 10, 2016 – Emirates, London
Kick Off 3pm
After three League matches, Arsenal have managed just 4 points and are behind by a full 5 points off table leaders Man City, Chelsea and Man United. So a win at Emirates on Saturday is imperative.
Expected to make a start is Arsene Wenger‘s £35 million signing of Valencia center back Shkodran Mustafi. Another acquisition from a Spanish side will be Lucas Perez, the 24-year old forward from Deportivo La Coruna.
Perez will probably fill the shoes of Olivier Giroud upfront and his speed and ability to quickly get behind defenders may fetch the very thing that the Gunners want – goals. Something that has eluded the club for 271 minutes of playing time. Moreover the young Spaniard is expected to make a perfect foil for the likes of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez. But then a sudden Giroud inclusion cannot be ruled out despite his poor form. In such an event, Perez may have to wait to make his debut.
Wenger is counting on Mustafi to blend in with Koscielny, Monreal and Bellerin at the back while Granit Xhaka and Cazorla will man the midfield. Peter Cech will man the posts as usual. Per Mertesacker, Danny Welbeck, Gabriel and Aaron Ramsey are some key players who will be out owing to injuries.
Southampton, meanwhile, haven't exactly got off to a flyer under new manager Claude Puel. They are yet to find a win from their three outings in the League. They seem to have lost all cohesion after the exit of some of their star names like Graziano Pelle, Victor Wanyama and the brilliant Senegalese, Sadio Mane.
The Saints have lost one game to Manchester United and drawn two, one against Watford and other against Sunderland – teams they should have been able to overcome easily.
Sofiane Boufal, a attacking midfielder signed in for £16 million from French club, Lille, is expected to make his debut. Jeremy Pied and Florin Gardos are on the injury list.
Claude Puel will probably play a 4-2-3-1 formation and his starting XI could look like this – Forster (goal); Bertrand, Soares, Fonte, Van Dijk, Romeu, Hojbjerg, Redmond, Tadic, Boufal and Long.
The visitors can take heart from their past despite the odds favoring the Gunners. It was only last year in December the Saints had thrashed Arsenal 4-0 with Shane Long scoring a brace. Southampton haven't conceded a goal in their last three outings against the Gunners. But the hosts haven't lost to Southampton at home in 11 out of the last 12 games. Moreover, the visitors' uninspiring show at the EPL will definitely tilt September 10th's clash in favour of Arsenal as betting odds go.
Correct Score Predictions:
Arsenal 2-1 Southampton @ 8/1
Arsenal 2-2 Southampton @ 18/1