Arsenal v Southhampton
Capital One Cup
The provisional squad was announced early, possibly to encourage Koeman to reciprocate with an equally youthful squad? But barring late injuries, illness, or a Southampton ‘A’ team, this is it.
So for once, I do not have to make too many difficult decisions on our team, as it will be, no, seriously, it WILL be the following:
Or to get a proper 4-1-4-1 formation, see:
Why am I so certain? Just a brief run through:
Ospina is a given, Bellerin is a given because Chambers is going to be needed as cover for the CB’s, with Monreal out for 4 games, so he needs his CB hat on here. Gibbs, not certain, but unless Flamini drops back there, there isn’t another LB in the squad.
Hayden, in his best position, and AW tells us he is ready for this level (I concur). Flamini a given, as Arteta played in Saturday’s game, and Coquelin with Hayden would be too much of a gamble, and the Frenchman is a useful sub. Cazorla plays central, because he will not start next Saturday?
Rosicky deserves a start in his favoured right side, Campbell on the left, but expect a lot of movement between these three. Akpom up front because ….err, there isn’t anybody else? Nah, not even Poldi as CF.
Bench: Szczesny; Arteta, Coquelin, Diaby, Wilshere, Podolski, Zelalem.
How will this pan out in the game, using the much vaunted 4-1-4-1 formation?
My guess is the DM role will alternate between Hayden and Flamini, but I expect Hayden to be the more advanced of the two, leaving Flamini to clear up should he need to. Hayden is an excellent ball player, and has the physical strength to brush past the formidable DM pairing that Southampton have, should they both play? He would be an ideal player to have deep if a long range shot is on, such is the Podolski like bullets he can provide.
However, his primary role going forward will be to provide Cazorla with passes, and be available for the return.
It will be Cazorla’s job to feed the wide players, Gibbs and Campbell one the one side, and Bellerin and Rosicky on the other. I think these wide partnerships look to be very complimentary, and should prove an exciting blend of pace and shooting power, and equally good at picking out Akpom.
Akpom’s movement in and around the box will be key. It is his big chance to show just how much he has developed since those pre-season games of last season (2013). Not only is he big and strong, and has quick feet, he also has alarming pace for a striker. He will frighten any defence into mistakes, so penalties long before shootout time are very much on the cards. Because of his pace, somebody will have to try and stop him if we get a quick release from a turnover. That could bode well for Campbell to become the second striker, and we have seen just how effective he can be when given the space?
That is the positive side going forwards. Things will not be quite so rosy on the defensive front?
Without Per Mertersacker to organise the defence, a rookie CB alongside a very competent, but still a rookie partner, I think it will fall to Ospina and Hayden to set the cover at set pieces, and Flamini and Hayden to sort it out in open play. On the positive side, Ajayi is solid enough to hold his own against a physical assault; and Chambers is quick in the ‘Koscielny’ role, and two very pacey wingbacks to make last ditch tackles, should our lines be breeched. Providing they keep calm and don’t get too fired up, the Flamini-Hayden brick wall in front of the CB’s should keep most threats at bay, but I think Ospina will have his World Cup credentials well and truly tested?
What we will not know is just how many Academy graduates will appear in the Southampton ranks, as they too will want to test the depth of their squad to some extent? They also have some key injuries: Yoshida, Ward-Prowse, Rodriguez, Alderwerield, and Under-21 player, Gallagher. Listening to Koeman talking ahead of this game, he seems to be taking it a little more seriously, which is understandable if they haven’t got other midweek games to worry about.
We may see the return of Boruc in goal, or Davies, but it is the defence where they are likely to be strong. They have lively full backs in Clyne and Bertrand, and the very solid Fonte, who will probably partner Gardos in the middle. Again, in midfield they are strong, despite departures. Wanyama looks certain to start, but Schneiderlin could be given a break, as they have Mane, one of many good signings they made, who is back from AFCON knockout games and could be a real threat, along with the lively Cork and Tadic, and that without troubling regular, Steven Davies. Up front they can choose between Long, Mayuka, and Pelle. I suspect they may go for a 4-4-2 setup, as this is a knockout game
It will not be an easy game to win; that is for sure. But it will be fast and furious.
Unless Arsene changes the squad he has announced, then the team is unlikely to be much different from what I have set out. Argue about it by all means, I am only going with what has been announced.
Above all, enjoy the game; the players, as you can bet your life, will be doing their very best to carry it off.
Keep the faith
Written by: Gerry.