We return to EFL Cup action on Wednesday as we face Southampton in the quarter-finals. Ahead of the game, Michael Cox analyses them in detail:
Claude Puel took charge of Southampton in the summer, his first appointment outside his native France. As a player he worked under Arsene Wenger at Monaco, his only club, and later became manager in 1999, before spells with Lille, Lyon and Nice. His only title came in his first full season at Monaco in 1999/2000.
Despite fielding a rotated side in this competition, Puel has demonstrated a determination to stuck with the tactics he favours in the Premier League.
He essentially uses a midfield diamond in a 4-3-1-2 system, although the forwards often drift wide to the flanks, meaning it sometimes looks more like a 4-3-3. There is great structure in midfield, with the three central players remaining in solid positions and allowing the trio of attackers to roam.
Southampton’s three central midfielders stay in position, creating a solid cordon that makes it extremely difficult to counter-attack through them.
Southampton’s attacking midfielder is likely to be Sofiane Boufal, who might yet emerge as one of the Premier League’s best buys this season. A club record signing from Lille in the summer, he’s found his Premier League opportunities restricted this season due to injury, and the good form of Dusan Tadic.
However, Boufal scored a sensational winner against Sunderland in the last round, and appears a tremendous all-round attacking midfielder capable of scoring and creating in equal measure. He must be watched carefully.
AREAS TO TARGET
The fluid nature of the front three means Southampton are sometimes slow to defend the wide areas, so attack-minded full-backs can get joy when pushing forward quickly.
Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.