This is where we get to see if the Arsenal players support Mikel Arteta because the next two games against Southampton and Everton will be defining moments, with the club just 5 points off the bottom of the Premier League.
They say that when the going gets tough, the tough get going and we’ll see if that’s true. Can this somewhat shambolic Arsenal side dig deep and start to play with the passion and desire they’ve been lacking since the opening fixture at Fulham.
Southampton pose a significant threat for Arsenal, mainly from James Ward-Prowse, Danny Ings, and Che Adams (if available). Theo Walcott would also love to show Arsenal what they have been missing and between these foursome, the Gunners will have to be sharp and alert to the danger for the full 90 plus minutes.
Ings is a real threat and he’ll love attacking the right side of Arsenal’s defence if Holding and Bellerin are on duty. He has an eye for goal and a predator’s instinct, so he will have to have someone in his shoulder at all times but although I’m praising Ings, he may prove to be the stalking horse, catching the eye, drawing attention, and leaving spaces for others to nip in such as Walcott or Adams.
If Arsenal decide to get reckless and give away a free-kick, James Ward-Prowse will fancy his chances from long or short range. Bernd Leno may even need to sprout another pair of arms and hands to keep up with the action on what could prove to be a dramatic and eventful night. Right now, most of the best online casino and bookies out there are offering better odds on Southampton making the most out of tonights game and its upto Arteta and his team to change the narrative.
Arteta’s problem is instilling confidence and belief, he needs these highly paid, underperforming players to show some resilience and start earning their wages. They owe the fans a performance and something to cheer about because it’s been a terrible few months all around.
How can the Spaniard get his players playing freely or with a smile, after a series of crushing defeats? He needs to find a formation to win here and stack up the points urgently. There are generally no quick fix approaches when a team finds itself in this position but goals and points will have a miraculous effect. It’s just getting that first win.
The biggest mystery is the team’s inability to get the best out of its strikers. Everywhere you look, there’s attacking talent but it can’t combine and is thoroughly disjointed. Arteta has an abundance of riches in Saka, Nelson, Pepe, Willian, Aubameyang, and Lacazette, but the well has run dry and although they need a creative influence, players have to start performing again.
Arsenal need 4 points minimum from these two matches and I don’t even care if it’s a dull game, we need the points. Above all, I want to see some heart and determination, I want to see a side that plays for the supporters and the badge! A draw will do in the Arsenal vs Southampton game but a win would give us confidence going into the Everton game.
Losses to both of these clubs will make for an uncomfortable festive period but make no mistake, Arsenal are the underdogs going into the Arsenal vs Southampton fixture. One mistake and it’s over, so concentration has to be a priority. I think that Arteta will play safe but I’d take a chance here and throw in a couple of the academy players that need to prove themselves.
Two Formations: 4-4-2 or Lacazette just behind Aubameyang in a 4-4-1-1
Preferred Side: Leno; Maitland-Niles, Mari/Luiz, Gabriel, Tierney; Pepe, Ceballos, Smith Rowe, Saka; Lacazette, Aubameyang.
Predicted Side: Leno; Cedric, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney; Ceballos, Elneny; Pepe, Willock, Saka; Aubameyang (4-2-3-1).
Head says: Draw or Worse.
Heart says: Arsenal win, with both Aubameyang and Lacazette on the scoresheet.