Southampton v Arsenal

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Pre-Match Report

Southampton v Arsenal: The Brief

Having sailed through our final Europa League group-stage game in serene fashion on Thursday night, a key period is upon us.

With four games in the space of 10 days, including the small matter of a Carabao Cup quarter-final against Tottenham, this is the stress test for our 22-match unbeaten run.

First up is a trip to St Mary's to face a Southampton team playing their home game under new manager, Ralph Hasenhuttl. That will prove a challenge in itself, let alone with the defensive issues we suddenly face.

Having lost the unfortunate Rob Holding for between six and nine months wit a knee injury, we will also have to do without the suspended Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi.

The return of Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal could scarcely be better timed as we head into a festive schedule that tests even the most opulent of squads.

Read on for a comprehensive match preview, Emery's thoughts on the game, the latest team news, stats, and analysis of the opposition.

The Breakdown - Southampton
Emery quote - Southampton
Team News - Southampton
The Opposition - Southampton
AN Live - Southampton

Team news

Team news: Mustafi, Sokratis, Smith Rowe

Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis

Ahead of Sunday’s Premier League game against Southampton, here's the latest team news update from our medical team, which also includes a disciplinary update:

Sokratis
Due to receiving his fifth domestic booking, receives a one-match suspension for Southampton (a) on Sunday, December 16.
 
Shkodran Mustafi
Due to receiving his fifth domestic booking, receives a one-match suspension for Southampton (a)  on Sunday, December 16. Shkodran's hamstring is also being assessed ahead of Tottenham Hotspur (h) on Wednesday, December 19.
 
Emile Smith Rowe
Right hip. Expected to return to full training in December.
 
Rob Holding
Left knee. Successful anterior cruciate ligament repair surgery on Thursday.
 
Dinos Mavropanos
Groin injury. Expected to return to full training in December.
 
Danny Welbeck
Right ankle. Recovering after surgery.

Gallery

Team train in the rain before facing Southampton

Unai Emery at our final training session before the Southampton away game

We're back in Premier League action on Sunday, when we travel to Southampton in the Premier League.

The first-team squad continued their preparations for the game with a training session at London Colney on Saturday. Our club photographer was there, too - and sent back these images.

Interview

Emery - I was a huge fan of Le Tissier

There are plenty of football fans - not just Southampton fans - who would argue that Matthew Le Tissier should have played more than eight times for England.

Le Tissier was one of the most technically-gifted players in the top flight, and a regular gatecrasher of Goal of the Month competitions in his Saints heyday.

And it turns out the first midfielder to score 100 goals in the Premier League was admired from afar by one of the division’s most recent additions - our own Unai Emery.

“He’s one player who I would watch when I was watching the Premier League in Spain,” said the head coach.

“He was one player I would watch a lot of movies of. He was very technical, a quality player with the ball and was amazing for the spectacle.

“My memory of him is that he was a very, very special player.”

Interview

'We need to create a stronger identity'

Unai Emery

After 22 games without defeat, Unai Emery is pleased with the progress his side are making - but says they still need to "create a stronger identity".

We head to St Mary's on Sunday to face Southampton for our first match of four in the space of 10 days and he says the challenge facing us is clear:

"I think it’s a very big match like every match in the Premier League," he said. "Southampton have some very good players and a new coach who has good experience and good performances in Germany.

"On Sunday I think they are going to push against us a lot. We need to prepare very well for the match with a very big personality because we want to be consistent.

"Every challenge is to continue doing that and Sunday is a big challenge and a big match, and also we are looking forward to continuing our improvement and good moment knowing that it’s difficult. 

"Every match gives us a struggle in terms of work and continuing in our way. Against Southampton on Sunday, it’s about preparing for a different match. We need to create a stronger identity and our personality is getting better in each game. We are playing games our way."

Interview

Unai's pre-match interview: full transcript

Unai Emery

Unai Emery was in expansive mood on Friday as he spoke to the media ahead of our Premier League clash against Southampton.

Our head coach discussed our 22-match unbeaten run, Laurent Koscielny's return and Lucas Torreira's adaption to the Premier League.

Read on for a transcript of Emery's interview:

on whether it’s surprised him how quick his team have adapted to his ideas…
I think we need more. I think our beginning is good, but at the moment in the table we are fifth and our mind is focused on being in the first four positions. I think we are doing our way and in one process improving, but the reality is that we need more. 

on whether he thought the job would be harder… 
I think first our ideas and work with the players is to learn together. All of us can give everybody new ideas. I think the players are open to listening to us about our new tactical work with our analysis in videos. We need to do this work quickly, but we also need patience. I think at the moment we are doing that with good results, but as I said to you, we need more. We are improving step by step - and I think the players are also showing very, very good commitment and behaviour every day. 

on going 22 games unbeaten…
There is no secret. The only thing is the next match. We’ve used the last matches to help us improve through our analysis. We can improve things individually and collectively, and also tactically and some things with the mentality. There is no secret in our way. We think only about the next match and prepare with our focus being very clear that we can progress and we can improve in the next matches. This development with us is clear with the players. We don’t want to think about the past, the most important thing is the present and the near future. 

on our clash against Southampton…
I think it’s a very big match like every match in the Premier League. Southampton have some very good players and a new coach who has good experience and good performances in Germany. On Sunday I think they are going to push against us a lot. We need to prepare very well for the match with a very big personality because we want to be consistent. Every challenge is to continue doing that and Sunday is a big challenge and a big match, and also we are looking forward to continuing our improvement and good moment knowing that it’s difficult. 

on whether playing Southampton will be similar to Huddersfield…
I think each match is different because the idea is different, the players are different, they have a new coach… I think it’s different to play away rather than play at home. Every match gives us a struggle in terms of work and continuing in our way. Against Southampton on Sunday, it’s about preparing for a different match. We need to create a stronger identity and our personality is getting better in each game. We are playing games our way.

on having Mesut Ozil and Laurent Koscielny back…
It’s very important for us to have Laurent Koscielny back because he’s our captain, he has experience. He’s, for us, one important player in the group. Him coming back is very important for us because he’s been training with us for the past month. But we also need to start with him helping us on the pitch in the games, and it’s very important for us that he can play with us.

on whether Mesut Ozil will start on Sunday…
We’ll see tomorrow.

on how important rotation is over Christmas period…
For me, the most important thing is that every player can give us big performances. We want them to show that quality in every match. We are having this experience now because we have lots of matches with the Premier League, Europa League and the Carabao Cup. Every player has the habit and the capability to play a lot of matches in one week. The next period is going to be the same. We’re only going to think about one match and then when that finishes, we can think about another. We need to consider every player for each match.

on how impressed he’s been with how quickly Torreira’s adapted to the PL…
I think he has the quality and he also has our help. He’s very humble and this humbleness is good for every day, and helping him achieve both his individual objectives and those with the group. His performances have been good and, like every player, he is working with a very big commitment every day.

on simulation…
Our idea today is to recover from yesterday’s match and hope we’re ready for Sunday. Tomorrow’s training is very important for us in knowing how we can play against Southampton, and preparing for this match.

on the January transfer window…
The group is working for the possibility.

Fixtures

Premier League
Ticket Info
The Emirates FA Cup
Ticket Info

Results

Premier League
The Emirates FA Cup