Arsenal will look to clinch their first 3 points at home this season when Southampton come visiting at the Emirates with Italian Claude Puel at the helm. The Gunners will be looking to bury the memories of a 4-3 defeat at the hands of Liverpool in the opening game of the season and the omens are good particularly with Southampton winless on the road against Arsenal for 29 years. Wenger obliged the fans and especially the club’s ambitions as he finally gave the go ahead to make a couple of vital signings right towards the end of the transfer window. Though their home record seems reassuring, the fact that the Gunners have won just one of their last 6 meetings with the Saints losing 3 in the process, indicates that the match will be anything but one-sided.
We look into the three key battles which would probably influence the outcome when the teams meet on Saturday.
NATHAN REDMOND VS LAURENT KOSCIELNY
It is expected that the Southampton team will be spending most of their time in their own half with the Gunners lording over the possession. But with the Saints being no pushovers they will get their own chances throughout the course of the game, albeit few in numbers. And this is where the likes of Redmond and Austin have to step and take the limited chances which fall their way. Any sort of profligacy will have to be avoided if the visitors are to take something away from this match.
DUSAN TADIC VS GRANIT XHAKA
After the departure of Sadio Mane the creative duties has fallen on the shoulders of Tadic. While he boasts of tremendous potential he has not being as consistent as his teammates would like. Finally given the chance to shine, with the role of the main playmaker he has the license to wreak havoc behind the two strikers.
But he will be facing the robust presence of Granit Xhaka who has settled seamlessly into the Arsenal team and has already shown his ruthless side. It will be an interesting battle to watch over the course of the 90 minutes.
RYAN BERTRAND VS HECTOR BELLERIN
Two full-backs who are full of pace and attacking intent. Bertrand is expected to return to the starting eleven and he will provide much needed thrust from the left-back slot. Both of them like spending a good amount of time in the attacking area and as such will have to be on their toes to nullify the threat of the other.