Walcott and AOC face their old club, but will either player be a factor?
Morning everybody. Well, it's been a long couple of weeks waiting for some Arsenal football to come back around, but we've finally made it and for me, not a moment too soon. It's a good sign when an interlull feels like an eternity because it means you've got something to look forward to, and with this team, I think we certainly have that. It's easy to be overly optimistic this early in the season, but there just seems to be a palpable and unfamiliar feeling of excitement in the air.
I'm going to talk about Southampton first. They are of course fresh up from the Championship, and it's been a while since we've faced them. In fact, here's a great video I dug up of the last time around. Double hat-tricks, and definitely worth a watch.
Southampton finished as runners-up in the Championship last year, never dropping from the top two in the table, but have been thrown directly into the Premier League fire. In their first three matches, they have faced City, Wigan and United, and will now travel to The Emirates. Welcome back to the big top fellas.
Ths Saints have taken no points from their first three fixtures, but that's sort of a deceptive statistic. They've played well and given both United and City a run for their money. They're a side that can score goals, thanks in large part to their 8 new transfer window signings which include midfielder Gaston Ramirez and forward Jay Rodriguez. Ramirez was brought on for a record fee of £12 million just before the deadline.
Southampton is the team from which Arsenal purchased both Theo Walcott and Alex-Oxlaide Chamberlain. Ironically, I don't expect either of those players to start in tomorrow's match but that remains to be seen. In Wednesday's blog I predicted the starting XI which didn't include either player, but I'll be wrong on at least one count as it seems Diaby will be having a seat. Hard to say, but I think Coquelin will be the replacement. He's been asking for chances, and because Diaby needs resting he may get them. There could be some other surprises as well. It's always difficult to speculate on starters after an interlull, especially when the team has five matches in the next 15 days. It's going to take some tactical resolve to make sure we evenly distribute playing time in order to avoid injury and exhaustion. We're headed into a very busy time of the season and maintaining fitness will be extremely important.
Anything less than all three points tomorrow will not be well received. The match is at home, we're reasonably fit, and we are a much better side by a long shot. We'll have Szczęsny back in goal, Koscielny should be ready for a start, and most of all I expect Giroud to be hungry for goals. Although, as I've said, Southampton is not a side we'll want to overlook. They've come close to stinging a couple top clubs already this season, and they'll be keen to try and steal a point from us. It's one they need badly and that alone makes them dangerous; sort of like a cornered animal. That said, if we can continue to play solid defense, two goals should get us a win, and I know we've got two in us. City and United each had three, and Wigan two. There won't be any excuses if we can't get the ball in the back of the net.
That's it for me boys. Please leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts on Southampton. I'll be back later with the poll question of the day. See you then.