Arsenal will look to exact revenge over Premier League high-flyers Southampton when they welcome Ronald Koeman’s side to the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday night.
It was the south-coast club who inflicted a 2-1 defeat over the Gunners in north London back in September to dump Arsene Wenger’s men out of the Capital One Cup at the third round stage.
That was the Saints’ first away victory over Arsenal since November 1987 - and belief that they can make it two wins from two will be high following a quite remarkable start to the season.
Southampton exceeding expectations
Despite Sunday’s 3-0 defeat to Premier League champions Manchester City, which may have knocked their confidence a little, Southampton still find themselves third in the table, three places and six points ahead of the Gunners.
Few predicted Southampton to perform so well after losing a host of key players over the summer; indeed, many even tipped them to suffer relegation to the Championship at the end of this season.
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But it’s testament to the fine work of Koeman and his coaching staff that Southampton and their supporters have already forgotten about their former manager Mauricio Pochettino.
Arsenal must win
While Southampton have exceeded expectations, Arsenal have often flattered to deceive this term. Wenger is a man under considerable pressure, and failure to perform on Wednesday night will inevitably see the atmosphere inside the Emirates Stadium turn poisonous.
Arsenal have won their last two matches, but secure maximum points from this fixture, on home soil, is imperative. The Gunners’ faithful want to see their side back into the top four, with a title challenge now seemingly out of the question.
So, how will Wenger set his side up for the visit of Southampton? The French coach is not expected to make too many changes from the side that beat West Brom 1-0 on Saturday afternoon.
Damian Martinez will continue in goal, with Wojciech Szczesny still out with a rib injury, while left-backs Kieran Gibbs and Nacho Monreal should both recover from knocks. The former could start ahead of the Spaniard.
Mathieu Flamini and Aaron Ramsey will continue in central midfield, while Danny Welbeck, Santi Cazorla and Alexis Sanchez should line up in a three behind Olivier Giroud.
Arsenal: Predicted XI v Southampton
Martinez; Gibbs, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Chambers; Flamini, Ramsey; Welbeck, Cazorla, Sanchez; Giroud
Arsenal 3-1 Southampton