Thursday, March 23, 2023

3 Things Arsenal Have To Watch Out For When They Take On Southampton

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Arsenal will have to deal with the threat of Southampton in game week 4 as Premier League fixtures resume right after the international break. Claude Puel would be coming to the Emirates for the first time hoping to upset the hosts and secure their first win of the season. In order to do that though, Puel would have to accomplish what no Saints manager has done since 1987 and that is indeed a big challenge. The current Southampton boss, however excels in these situations and do have a reputation of pulling off some surprise victories against superior oppositions. Here’s what Arsenal needs to be aware of to prevent the same from happening.

Shane Long

Puel is likely to let Shane Long lead the line for the visitors with special instructions on utilising any hesitations between the potential new pairing of Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi in Arsenal’s central defence. The pair will be playing together for the first time on Saturday and they would need to have a better communication and understanding between them for if they show any uncertainty or indecisiveness, Long will be likely to cause some serious damage.

Attack From The Flanks

The current Southampton manager has earned praise with his attacking football in his previous clubs and a particular highlight of his previous teams during the attacking phase had been the intelligent use of the wingers exploiting the half spaces. With the fullbacks of the home team being very attack-minded, sprinting forward at every opportunity, catching them out of their positions on the counter would be high on the visitor’s agenda. Arsenal’s deep midfielders would need to work well with their defenders and the wingers would need to fall back in order to nullify those threats.

Space In Midfield

Just like he helped his team execute to perfection at Nice, the very distinct attacking method which Puel uses calls for a man in the midfield who has the ability to spray passes into the vacant spaces with the perfect weight for his wide players to run into. At Nice, Nampalys Mendy (now with Leicester City) played his crossfield long balls to great effect facilitating the attacking transitions. The current Southampton team has the likes of Jordy Clasie, James Ward-Prowse and new boy Jeremy Pied who can all thread those important passes. There would be a lot of those passes and diagonals into the wide areas on Saturday which needs to be contained expertly to nullify the visitors’ attacks.

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