Arsenal can’t catch a break since their return to action, but Southampton presents another opportunity. Here’s how they should line up.
Arsenal‘s return to action was supposed to be their chance to fire a warning to the clubs above them—they were back, and they were hungry for a top-five finish. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. Not even close, really. Rather, they’ve had very diverse downfalls leading to creative ways to lose.
You know, the Arsenal way. But enough self-deprecation, because despite the horrid injury situation the club now faces, the way to go is still to infinity and beyond (Buzz Lightyear). They still have the personnel and the resources to get back on the horse and giddy-up. Sorry, I’m on a roll today.
Speaking of the injury situation, Mikel Arteta is going to have to make some judgment calls against Southampton. With Bernd Leno tragically out, Pablo Mari similarly out, Granit Xhaka not yet recovered, and David Luiz suspended, the defense is battered and the midfield is now highly reliant on one man—Matteo Guendouzi.
The question now becomes how Arteta can fill in the team around him to build a solid enough defense that can provide a foundation for this attack.
And that’s what I’m here to talk about now. Because since we lost again, you can bet that changes are coming, not least of all because we have another match this weekend as the gauntlet continues.
That said, I have had no problems with Arteta’s personnel decisions, other than the exclusion of Gabriel Martinelli. I think he’s handled everything quite well, and that gives me hope that my predicted XI might actually be more accurate than ever before because I feel like I’m getting a beat on Arteta’s decision making.
Which literally never happened with previous managers.
So let’s dig in. Expect a 4-2-3-1 that sometimes looks like a 4-3-3. We start with the keeper.
It breaks my heart that Bernd Leno isn’t the anchor anymore. He had become such a welcome fixture that life without him is going to be rough. But Emi Martinez showed up against Brighton. He played well. And as someone who is hungry for an opportunity, we could very well end up pleasantly surprised.
Next stop, the defense.