Arsenal v Southampton
Barcalys Premier League
Saturday September 15; 15:00 KO
Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny is available for selection after overcoming a rib injury.
Theo Walcott missed England’s game against Ukraine this week but could be ready to start on Saturday, while Abou Diaby is a doubtful after picking up a hip injury on international duty with France.
Southampton new boy Gaston Ramirez could make his debut for the club despite having only trained with his new team-mates on Thursday while Maya Yoshida could also start. Guly de Prado may be omitted after he admitted to a drink-driving charge.
Vermaelen backs Giroud to fire
Thomas Vermaelen believes it is only a matter of time before Oivier Giroud starts finding the back of the net on a regular basis after the Frenchman failed to score in his first three games for Arsenal.
Giroud, a £11 million summer acquisition from Montpellier, has been handed the daunting task of replacing Robin van Persie in leading the Arsenal line, and while he has impressed with his all-round play thus far his lack of goals have prompted questions about his suitability for the task.
However Vermaelen insists Giroud is the right man for the job, and says he wouldn’t be surprised if he opened his account with a goal against Southampton at the Emirates this weekend.
“I’m convinced Olivier will be off the mark soon,” the Belgian defender wrote in Arsenal’s official matchday programme. “It’s not as if he has had an easy start - he didn’t get much time against Sunderland, and then played in two tough away games.
“He won a lot of duels in those matches, and it’s a vital quality when you’re away from home - if we don’t see a solution, we can sometimes play a longer ball to him in the knowledge that he works hard and is strong in the air.
“He’s made some good runs and has been a bit unfortunate not to score so far, but he’s got into the positions so I’m not worried about him at all. The goals will come.”
While the goals are yet to come for Giroud, at the other end of the pitch Vermaelen and his defensive colleagues are doing in exemplary job of stopping their opponents from finding the back of the net.
The Gunners have secured three clean sheets so far and Vermaelen says their defensive strength is down to hard work put in on the training pitch.
“I think you can see, particularly from the away games at Stoke and Liverpool, that the whole team - not just the defence, but every area - is working really hard at shape and organisation,” he said.
“It’s one of the main aspects of football, and we’ve been putting a lot of effort into getting it right.”