We're back in Premier League action on Wednesday night when we travel to St. Mary's Stadium to face Southampton
Ahead of the game, tactical expert Michael Cox and former Gunner Adrian Clarke assess our opponents to find out about their strengths and areas that we can exploit.
MC: Claude Puel played under Arsene Wenger at Monaco and shares many qualities with the Arsenal manager – he’s a calm, fatherly figure to his young side and preaches the importance of good attacking football. He likes structured and positive play, and knows how to organise a defence – Southampton were excellent at the back in the weekend 0-0 at Anfield.
MC: Southampton play a system that sometimes looks like 4-2-3-1 and sometimes more like 4-3-3. Either way, it’s likely Puel will deploy a lone striker with two creative wide players pushing forward in support, and keep things relatively solid in the centre of midfield.
MC: Southampton are particularly strong in the centre of the pitch, where hard-tackling defensive midfielder Oriol Romeu has been arguably their best performer this season. With Steven Davis, amongst the Premier League’s most underrated performers, providing energy alongside him, Southampton are rarely overrun in the middle.
AC: Southampton are solid at the back at the moment but for some reason it’s not really clicking when they go forward this season. They’ve got good players going forward like Gabbiadini, who’s decent, Redmond and Tadic… they’ve got a lot of ability but for them at the moment, it’s all about their defence and the work they do without the ball. They’re a tough nut to crack.
MC: Centre-forward Manolo Gabbiadini smashed in six goals in four matches after his January switch from Napoli, and is a crafty operator capable of finding space in crowded penalty boxes. He has, however, now gone five games without a goal.
AREAS TO TARGET
MC: Star centre-back Virgil van Dijk is out injured and former captain Jose Fonte departed in the summer, and Maya Yoshida and Jack Stephens aren’t so dominant in the air. Following two consecutive clean sheets, however, there’s nothing to think Southampton will be easy to break down.
AC: It’s never easy against Southampton and Fraser Forster is finishing the season very well. I actually think he’s had a pretty disappointing year by his standards and has made a few bloopers. I wouldn’t start thinking or assuming that he’s going to be the man mountain that he’s maybe been in the past.
More polls and quizzes to follow soon
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