In all honesty, the international break was welcome this time around because it gave Arsenal and Unai Emery a chance to fathom out what is fundamentally wrong at the Emirates and allowed the Spaniard sufficient time to put it right.
The visit of Southampton is not what Arsenal need right now. Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side have their own problems, second from bottom and just nine points behind Arsenal, it appears the form they showed last season has deserted them.
The game is vital to each of them, with a draw suiting neither Arsenal nor Southampton and a loss meaning that either coach could be on their way out. It makes for an interesting clash but the supporters of the two clubs will project their obvious nerves into an already frantic situation.
Emery has the usual things to ponder. How does he stop Arsenal conceding ? Well, the most obvious change is to put Torreira in front of the defense as part of a shield and I’d push David Luiz forward as his partner.
There are rumors circulating that the armband throwing Granit Xhaka is being considered to be in the Arsenal starting XI again but if that happens it’s just another sign that Emery has lost control as well as his mind.
Emery’s issues at Arsenal are unfortunately from front to back in the squad. He can’t find a midfield combination capable of creating and controlling. He can’t depend on his back line or the collective protection of the team to defend and his strikers are in the middle of a worrying goal drought because the service at present is dire.
I’d have no hesitation in dropping Lacazette and installing the hungry Martinelli to prize open the Saints goal with the latter in red hot form scoring goals for fun.
Danny Ings and Shane Long will be Arsenal’s biggest problems (if fit) and they have the likes of Redmond, Ward and Slattery to feed the forwards and pressurize Arsenal’s soggy and leaky defence.
Pepe has apparently been deemed fit but Ceballos and Kolasinac are injured. There’s another chance for Mesut Ozil to pick his career up off the floor and start performing and I would expect to see both Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney in the starting 11.
Preferred line up:-
Leno, Bellerin, Sokratis, Holding, Tierney, Torreira, Luiz, Pepe, Ozil, Aubameyang and Martinelli.
Leno, Bellerin, Sokratis, Luiz, Tierney, Torreira, Guendouzi, Pepe, Ozil, Aubameyang and Lacazette.
Scoreline:- Close call- Arsenal 3-2 Southampton.