Hurrah! A win and suddenly the Wenger Out brigade are silenced, following a classy performance at Anfield. Not only the fluidity and speed we were able to show on the counter-attack but the cohesion of the back four was a joy to behold. Was it Arsenal I was watching defend against Liverpool? They actually looked formidable! Ok ok, so Jenkinson may have put a few stray passes in and it is clear to see that Metesacker lacks a yard of pace but, even with this being said, both of them had great games defensively. It was a great result and one we can look to build on going forward.
All the international mediocrity aside and onto another week of Premier League action! This week sees the Arsenal host new boys, Southampton. Could be a tricky test with the Saints looking good as of late but we should have too much for them.
Arsenal – Southampton
My Prediction 2-0
As ever, I will be taking into consideration the fitness of players, taken from both http://www.physioroom.com and Arsene’s press conference. So, yeah, here we go…
Arsenal Starting XI and Formation
It seems as though Wojciech has recovered from injury and is available for Saturday’s game. This being said, I’m not sure if he will be at full fitness and I, for one, would be reluctant to throw him into the Saints game if he isn’t at 100%. Vito has performed consistently over the last couple of games and I would be quite happy to see him between the sticks this weekend. It’s not a game that I believe we will be under a huge amount of pressure and, hopefully, we shouldn’t see our goalkeeper having to undertake a massive amount of work.
Now onto the back four that holds 3 clean sheets to its name! In terms of personnel, there could be one possible change to be made, if Arsene sees fit. Laurent Koscielny seems to be back to full fitness and would be pushing for a place alongside Tommy V. Although Kosh was, arguably, our best CB last season, TV5 and Mertesacker have formed a formidable partnership in the heart of the Arsenal defence, not shifting a goal as of yet. If it were up to me, I’d like to see TV5 and Merty start the match and maybe introduce Kosh back at HT, blood him back into the set up. Another option would be to slip Kosh into the side at RB, in place of Jenkinson. Jenkinson has been shaky at times but has shown, defensively, that he has a lot to offer. All in all, I’d like to see the same back four that performed so well, last time out, at Anfield.
I think that Wenger will look to stick with the same system in the midfield. Last week I voiced my concerns about Diaby and he proved me wrong, I’m happy to admit that! Freedom in the midfield and space to attack really played into Diaby’s gameplay. He was outstanding last week and really showed just how good a player he can be. Unfortunately, it seems that he may have picked up a slight knock on international duty and I hope that he is rested for this game. One man’s bad luck is another man’s opportunity and I would like to see Coquelin come in and really back his recent words up with a sterling performance. Le Coq has recently gone on record stating his frustration at the lack of first team exposure he is receiving, even threatening to leave the club if he is not included in Wenger’s immediate plans. I, for one, would like to see him stay and fulfil his potential in an Arsenal shirt, hopefully he will get a chance to do this Saturday. Fully expect Arteta to remain alongside either Coquelin or Diaby and dictate tempo as he does so well.
In behind the front man, our player of the month, you guessed it – Santi Cazorla. It’s only been three games and we have all run out of superlatives for this guy! The short of it is, if he’s fit, he’ll play. He’s fit, therefore, he’s in. I cannot wait to see him in action again.
I presume that Wenger could bring Gervinho back in to the starting line up, dependent on condition after international duty. He, apparently, was very impressive for the Ivory Coast over the past week and Wenger would love to have him back running at full backs Saturday. I have voiced my concerns in the past and I do think the Ox done very well last week but I think rotation is healthy. I would have liked to have seen Theo start but he has picked up an illness and faces a late fitness test. With the right side questionable, the left side is certain to feautre a big German (no no, let’s keep Merty at the back…). Podolski showed real promise at both ends of the pitch last week at Anfield. Not only did he take his goal brilliantly, he persisted on defending well and covering Gibbs whenever possible.
Who to play upfront? Well, Giroud picks himself right now due to the lack of options but the ‘real’ debate is whether he is good enough? The fickle amongst Arsenal fans seem to think that he isn’t and they know that from three games. Get a grip. The guy has shown great promise with his intelligence and movement, strikers have hard times in front of goal and I have every faith that he will be firing soon. Everyone has heard the comparisons between Bergkamp and Henry both getting their first goal against a Southampton side after goalless games. Who knows…
Possible Southampton Starting XI and Formation
Southampton must be wondering just how they have come out of these first few games without a single point. Stellar performances against both Manchester clubs were deserving of, at least, a point or two. I expect the Saints to line up, pretty much, the same as they did against United a fortnight ago. New boys Gaston Ramirez, Maya Yoshida and Emmanuel Mayuka will be pushing for places in Nigel Adkins line up too. Adam Lallana will be buoyed by his recent call up to the England side and, of course, we know what kind of a threat Rickie Lambert can pose. A strong, ‘old-fashioned’ centre forward is just the sort of striker that Arsenal defences of old would be quaking about. Hopefully, under Steve Bould, we have learnt to deal with this kind of powerful and direct threat.
Still, to some regard, an unknown quantity, Southampton will be sure to pose a threat. Their never say die attitude and impressive work rate was clear to see against the Champions and RVP United a fortnight ago. This being said, I feel that we will be too much for them and win this one comfortably.
There you have it, they are my views on this week’s game at the Emirates. I will be back next week where we will be assessing the Gunners’ chances at the Etihad, up against the Champions, Manchester City. It’s going to be fun!
Finally, up the Arsenal and let’s carry the confidence on from Anfield! COME ON YOU GUNNERS!