Southampton (a): Team News, Thoughts and Predicted Starting XI

“Whoops”

Morning, folks.

At my gainful employment, I have the fortune to work with a father and son duo of Southampton fans. Unlike the Liverpool contingent there, both tend not to be rabid enthusiasts and blinded by their own allegiance. However, I always seem to find myself a touch more concerned about the outcome when supporters of rival teams in my personal life are involved.

Tonight we face a very tricky test. Southampton at St Mary’s used to be a fixture I wouldn’t have considered all that daunting. This season, with their impressive defensive record, The Saints are an altogether different proposition. Add a few handy players in creative positions to that stability and you have a team that are capable of mixing it with most when on their own turf.

We could be in for one of those evenings in which I have to repeatedly, and completely unnecessarily, inform you all of the swirling vortex of nerves that is my bladder. ย The games against the big-games are often labelled as ‘deciders’ by the media who like to add a little extra spice to proceedings. Make no mistake, folks; games like tonight are equally as important.

The team news brings with it a few nuggets of good news. Aaron Ramsey, Mikel Arteta and Thomas Vermaelen all return to the squad. Of the 3, I imagine only Ramsey will take his place in the starting line-up. Theo Walcott watches eagerly from the sidelines whilst Abou Diaby and Yaya Sanogo have decided to open a small independent cinema in Oxford and show re-runs of their favourite action films. Tonight they’ll be too busy ushering the public in to watch a Chuck Norris marathon and will not take part in the game.

Having fielded a surprisingly strong side to dispatch Coventry it’s difficult for me to predict how Arsene will line the players up. It’s a fairly safe bet Olivier Giroud will come in for Nicklas Bendtner up front. Does Lukas Podolski’s brace on Friday warrant inclusion tonight? As much as I like to see Poldi play, I fear he’ll be on the bench.

My ill-educated guess would be:

Vs Southampton

Arsenal are spoilt for choice in midfield. I could quite easily make a case for including Serge Gnabry or Tomas Rosicky (I’m not sure ‘Little Mozart’s’ splattered nose has repaired itself yet) in the team for tonight. Perhaps deploying Ramsey in the wide right area does limit him slightly, but his overall work-rate gives us a greater level of cover. I wouldn’t say him playing there is something I consider as ideal, but I figure if Arsene sees the merits of doing so, then I probably should as well.

I shall stick my head on the line and say Arsenal will win this 2-1, but I’m expecting a very close game. Perhaps if Southampton are a little adventurous and eager to please their own fans we might see a lot of joy on the counter. Our defence is solid, a great deal may depend on the magic of Cazorla and Ozil. Should those two be on top of their respective games, we’ll certainly create a few chances to score.

That’s all from me today. The comments await your thoughts below. Drop me a line with your predictions and thoughts on how the team should take to the field. I’ll be back tomorrow with a report on the game.

As always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.

17 Comments

  1. Ibrahim-Atta

    Hey James?
    Nice piece, slightly confused Wiilshere tho coz I thought I heard Arsene Wenger say Jack Wilshere had a slight ankle problem yesterday?

    Reply
    1. James 'Raul' Stokes (Post author)

      @Ibrahim-Atta; I was under the impression he’d shake it off. I could be wrong, mind you. I did say it was an ill-educated guess ๐Ÿ™‚

      Reply
      1. Ibrahim-Atta

        Yeah, you did…. Hope he shakes it off tho, coz Rambo might be lacking match fitness.

        Reply
  2. Douglas

    A slight win for arsenal but Giroud must step up…..missed chances could prove crucial in this game!!!!

    Reply
  3. Rogers Ochieng Omunga

    Tomas rosiky should start this game:

    Reply
  4. Ernest Zambucco (@Zambucco)

    With Dejan Lovren out, you stand a better chance, Boruc will not be gifting you a goal and Fonte will not give a needless penalty. If Wanyama is back, lock up your daughters!

    It’s funny as we have grown we no longer fear ‘big’ teams at St. Mary’s, we look forward to them, as we use you as a yardstick to how far we have progressed and how far further we need to continue.

    Reply
    1. James 'Raul' Stokes (Post author)

      @Ernest Zambucco: Been really impressed with Southampton this season. Going to be a very interesting game tonight, Assuming Boruc doesn’t get any bouts of Disco Fever… ๐Ÿ™‚

      Reply
  5. Stanley

    The defense seem okay but the midfield is where I have concern. Arteta should make the DM position , as he gives the team much balanced control when compared to this colleague, flaming. Wilshire should make the team boot because he’s superior but on the bases of continuity and soil completing the 3. On the right, I think Chamberlain should start ahead of Ramsey while carzola should play from three left. Giroux really needs to step up his game and stop concentrating on just winning the ball for the other players. He should just go in and playlist game, use his size very well.

    Reply
    1. James 'Raul' Stokes (Post author)

      @Stanley: My unabashed love for The Flame prevents me from agreeing with you there, sir. I also disagree regarding Giroud – his hold-up play is pretty important when it comes to the midfielders getting involved.

      Reply
    2. Stanley

      Typographic errors. I meant wilshere should come in not because he is superior but for continuity. Ozil Wilson complete the middle. Chamber, carzola nd giroud should make up the 3.

      Reply
  6. Icecream

    Ramsey on the bench rossicky in tough contest but 3-1 to arsenal it will stand

    Reply
  7. bodiseowei johnson ibe

    Rambo shld be kept in d bench,rosiky&poldi shld start today’s match&we r going to win by 3 -1

    Reply
  8. bodiseowei johnson ibe

    Rambo shld b on d bench,rosiky&poldi shld start 2day’s match.up gunner’s we r winning 3-1

    Reply
  9. Pitch

    It will be great to see Ramsey back, I hope he can regain the form he showed early in the season. I’ve got a good feeling about Giroud this week, he’ll score a couple I reckon, that well taken chance against Coventry will do his confidence the world of good. 3 – 0.

    Reply
  10. nijwm

    i’d really like podolski to start on the left, with cazorla on the right and ozil in the middle. i think besides walcott, podolski is the most natural and clinical goal-scorer in the team. specially with his recent good form, he’ll be ready and hungry to impress again.

    flamini should start ahead of arteta because the latter might not fully match fit. flamini has done well in arteta’s absence and wenger might be reluctant to make too many changes from previous games. wilshere doesn’t look like he’s going to shake off the knock, hopefully he’ll be back for the next game. in his place ramsey should start

    btw elliott ‘yankee gunner’ smith made a really good point in the recent arse2mouse about arsenal’s striking options. in his view walcott would be a huge miss because he’s the only one who makes runs in behind the opposition defence. this enables ozil to thread in through passes timed to walcott’s runs. walcott’s absence might possibly one of the reasons for the drop in form for ozil.

    in comparison, giroud almost always plays with his back to the defence. yes he brings in midfielders into play. but if the opposition defence maintains a discipline shape, arsenal’s attack becomes somewhat blunted.

    Reply
  11. Admir

    Hello, James.

    Saints have been excellent this term and it’s amazing how they’ve progressed. For God sake, they transformed from the side that lost 6:1 at Emirates with Gervinho scoring TWICE (!!!) in the process to the side that lost 2:0 at Emirates only because Boruc did “an Higuita” and Clattenburgh gave us one of the softest penalties I’ve ever seen.

    Reply
  12. Vinay

    I doubt if Rozza will play, no mention about him at all in the presser, no training pics so i doubt, Jack unlikely as well knowing the fixture list pile up coming over. Expect Flamini and Ox in the deeper mid field role( ox needs to maintain his positional sense), Aaron will not be risked, expect him to come off the bench if need be. I think we will win this because of our bench strength coming and helping us, 1-0 maybe????

    Reply

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