Southampton Preview: Team News, Injury Updates and Predicted Lineups
2014 was a rather eventful year for Arsenal and everyone connected with the club. It will be fondly remembered for the club’s triumph in the FA Cup, which ended the long-standing drought that brought about all sorts of taunts and abuses from opposition fans. A new year is upon us and there’s some Premier League football to be played, with Southampton providing stiff opposition for Arsene Wenger’s men.
Following the big-money sales of many key playing personnel as well as the departure of the manager to Tottenham, many had touted the Saints to struggle this season but under the leadership of ex-footballing great, Ronald Koeman, the Saints have become a surprise package this season and they reached their zenith when they were second on the log for a couple of weeks, before hitting a bad patch of form that saw them lose five games on the trot. They got back to winning ways with a resounding win over the disappointing Everton but last week, they came up against a formidable Chelsea side and shared the spoils of battle with the Blue army.
However, the Saints have a somewhat poor record against Arsene Wenger. Besides the shock 2-1 win over the Gunners in the Capital One Cup third round in September, Arsenal had not lost in their last 10 games to Southampton. The last time both sides met, it took a very late Alexis Sanchez goal to settle the tie. Both teams had chances to kill the game off but on the night, Southampton’s Fraser Forster was a beast.
To team news, the hosts will be without Arsenal target, Morgan Schneiderlein that received his marching orders in the draw against Chelsea. Their in-form forward, Saido Mane, will play his last game before leaving to join his teammates ahead of the forthcoming African Cup of Nations. It’s really disappointing to know that my nation, Nigeria, the defending champions, failed to qualify for the tournament. Ryan Bertrand will make his return after missing out on last week’s game because he couldn’t play against his parent club. They would be without Nathaniel Clyne (knee), Jack Cork (knee), and Jay Rodriguez (knee).
To injuries and suspensions, Arsenal will be without Olivier Giroud and there are doubts over the fitness of Danny Welbeck (thigh) but Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Theo Walcott could be in contention to start the game. It’s been exactly a year since he ruptured his knee ligaments in the FA Cup third round win over Tottenham. The regular absentees, Aaron Ramsey (hamstring), Mesut Ozil (knee), Mikel Arteta (calf), Jack Wilshere (ankle), Serge Gnabry (knee) and Abou Diaby (calf) are still out. Tomas Rosicky was rested for the game against West Ham, so he should be fit enough to start.
Predicted Lineup for Southampton (4-2-3-1)
Forster; Alderweireld, Fonte, Yoshida, Bertrand; Ward-Prowse, Wanyama; Tadic, Davis, Mane; Pelle
Predicted Lineup for Arsenal (4-2-3-1)
Szczesny; Debuchy, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Gibbs; Coquelin, Flamini; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Cazorla, Podolski; Alexis
Prediction: Southampton 0 – Arsenal 1
Here’s to a great start to 2014
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