Arsenal’s clash against Southampton could be more of a battle between their youth prodigies. Arsenal have had a troubling time facing Southampton, having beaten the Saints just once in the two sides’ last four games. The win was their last-gasp home result in September and the Saints have often been a stumbling block to Arsenal’s seasons on previous occasions. Wenger will look to avoid any such display this time.
Arsenal received a huge blow as Olivier Giroud suffered a minor hamstring injury in the last stages of their win against Bournemouth and is unlikely to feature in the midweek fixture. Fortunately for Arsenal, Lucas Perez is back in training and would be a really valuable asset up front against a resilient Southampton side. Apart from that, Wenger is expected to start a young team as he always does in League Cup fixtures.
The Saints somewhat share the same philosophy of fielding young players in League Cup games rotating their squad. Southampton’s star defenders Virgil van Dijk and Cedric Soares are likely to be rested for this fixture and Shane Long might the start that he is desperately looking for since returning from injury.
Arsenal (4-2-3-1) – Martinez; Gibbs, Holding, Gabriel, Jenkinson; Maitland-Niles, Coquelin; Rene-Adelaide, Iwobi, Ramsey; Perez
Southampton (4-3-3) – Forster; McQueen, Fonte, Stephens, Yoshida; Reed, Clasie, Højbjerg; Rodriguez, Long, Boufal
Arsenal- Aaron Ramsey came off the bench very late against Bournemouth in the weekend and we expect him to start this match. Having quite an inexperienced defence, Southampton could be very much vulnerable to this Wales International’s piercing passes. Alex Iwobi has been Arsenal’s young sensation since last season and he showed how liberated he feels while playing the No. 10 position when he faced Reading FC.
Lucas Perez will be another threat for Southampton’s defence. The Spaniard returns from an ankle injury and will look to come back to the team in style. Perez has been unlucky not to get more goals since joining the Gunners and will look to break that shackle this time.
Southampton- Undoubtedly, Shane Long will be the biggest threat for Arsenal. The experienced striker will have yet another chance to shine in a big match and Puel will hope he takes the scoring responsibility as he is likely to rest his attacking trio of Charlie Austin, Nathan Redmond and Dusan Tadic. Fonte has always been a great performer against Arsenal and Puel will field him expecting a similar display.
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