Sometimes an international break can be really well-timed. Like last year, following the mauling at OT, we had 13 days to get away from Premier League action before Swansea came to the Emirates. This year, the international break was just a pain in the arse. Similarly, the match before the intermission was away against a top side (at least, it used to be a top side…). Once again, we return from our rest to face a newly-promoted side at home, this time Southampton.
I’ve been counting down the days until we get to see Santi and Arteta passing the ball with such speed and fluidity, our defence standing firm against everything thrown at them and Wenger sitting on the sidelines without a water bottle in sight. Hopefully, the Arsenal of old won’t be turning up tomorrow. In the past, we would beat one of the better teams with a great performance, before barely showing up for an ‘easier’ game. They probably thought they’d just need to turn up against Wigan, Bolton, Hull etc. But a good performance is always needed in this division. Someone on Twitter noted that Chelsea, City and Liverpool are all away from home, playing QPR, Stoke and Sunderland respectively. He said that these were difficult games in which he expects some slip-ups. I completely agree with that statement, but it just shows that (as the cliché goes) there are no easy games in the Premier League.
We face a Southampton side yet to register a point this season, having played Wigan, Man Utd and Man City. They’ve certainly had a tough start to the campaign, but as Wenger stated in his press conference, they were unlucky not to get anything from the two Manchester games.
As I’m sure you’re all aware, there is a lot of pressure being heaped on Giroud’s shoulders after he went (shock horror!) over two games without a goal. It’s infuriating that the media get on Arsenal’s back regardless of how well we are doing, but Gooners have shot back with a brilliant piece of trivia. Four of Arsenal’s most prolific goal scorers – Ian Wright, Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Robin van Persie – opened their league accounts against Southampton. I was at the match when the one that went to Manchester scored his. It was a beauty. Anyway, it seems that Giroud’s legacy is written in the stars, and he should net his first tomorrow. If everything goes according to plan. I really hope he does, because he’s said in interviews how sorry he is that he hasn’t scored yet, which is such a shame because it’s only been two full games! He shouldn’t need to apologise, and I hope the fans give him time.
- It’s been four home games in the league without a win, which is our worst run in 17 years. We followed up that great win against City with draws against Sunderland, Norwich and Chelsea as well as a defeat to Wigan. Let’s hope we can turn this poor run of form around… (BBC Sport)
- Cazorla’s been brilliant this season, and the stats show it too. He’s completed a league high of 88 passes in the final third this season. According to the EA Sports Performance Index, he’s completed 133 passes in total so far. He’s created the most goal-scoring opportunities in the league along with Ji-Sung Park, with 10 apiece.
- Southampton have allowed their opponents more shots on target than any other team this season – 19. Let’s hope Santi knows about this and unleashes a few of his long-range efforts. (Yahoo Eurosport)
- On the other hand, Arsenal have allowed their opponents the joint-fewest number of shots on target – 7. (Yahoo Eurosport)
- Arsenal are unbeaten in the last 13 matches against Southampton, winning 9 and drawing 4. (Arseblog)
Arsenal welcome Szczesny back into the team, although Diaby and Theo are doubts. I expect Mannone to be dropped in favour of our no.1, and I’d like to see Oxlade-Chamberlain play in midfield ahead of Diaby. However, I don’t think Wenger will do so unless Theo is fit to take Ox’s role on the wing. I hope Koscielny starts, but there is a case to be made for keeping the defence the same after three clean sheets.
I expect Arsenal to win the game, but it will probably be closer than we’d like. I also reckon we’ll concede our first goal, so I’m going for a 2-1 win.