And, we are back and rolling. It’s been an excruciating couple of weeks without watching Arsenal play, and while we have been subject to international friendlies and all so important World Cup play-off’s, it just ain’t the same adrenaline rush.
The next international break isn’t until March or something, so there’s plenty of club football, including a heavy December round of fixtures to look forward to. It all starts tonight as the high flying Saints pay a visit to the Emirates Stadium.
The defeat against Manchester United, though narrow has left a bitter after taste, and there is no better way to rectify it than with a win. As I mentioned in my match review, I felt the difference between the sides wasn’t too big, and maybe it was just fatigue and the location that may have eventually played into the hands of United.
Arsenal, despite the loss are still 2 points clear of 2nd placed Liverpool, and just 3 points clear of today’s opponents Southampton. Despite the series of 8 wins in 9 games before the Manchester United defeat, the margins remain so tight, which just goes to show how intense the competition for the title is going to be this season.
Mauricio Pochettino’s appointment in place of the popular Nigel Adkins came as a shock to many, considering the he had led the Saints to consecutive promotions to a position of safety in the Premier League. An accomplished defender himself in his playing days for Argentina, Espanyol and Paris Saint Germain, he has managed to build a water tight defence, second best in Europe to high flying Roma in Italy.
They started their league campaign with a 1-0 away win at West Brom, before drawing at home to Sunderland, and then losing at Norwich. After a dull goalless draw at West Ham, they beat Liverpool 1-0 at Anfield, and then won 3 consecutive home games with a margin of 2-0 against struggling Crystal Palace, Swansea and Fulham, with a late 1-1 draw against Manchester United sandwiched in between. A tough away point at Stoke was followed by a 4-1 trouncing of Hull.
Artur Boruc has been in tremendous form this season, and has been helped by his central defensive partnership of Jose Fonte and Dejan Lovren. Young left back Luke Shaw too has been impressive. Kenya international Victor Wayama was acquired from Celtic for £12.5m and has been instrumental this season, surrounded by Morgan Schneiderlein, James Ward-Prowse and Jay Rodriguez. Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana have earned international call ups for England this year with their stellar performances.
Right, team news then. Former Southampton starlet Theo Walcott is set to return to the bench. Per Mertesacker is expected to replace Thomas Vermaelen, who put in a solid shift at Old Trafford. Tomas Rosicky, who missed the game through flu, is still out. Mathieu Flamini is suspended having picked up his 5th yellow card at Old Trafford, which means Jack Wilshere could start, despite concerns of his fitness earlier this week.
This is how I expect the teams to line up.
Let’s hope that’s not the case today, and we get the required 3 points. Enjoy the game wherever you are!
Jai Arsenal 🙂
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