I guess the one good thing about the international break is that we look even more forward to the weekend Arsenal game than normal. Add to this the fact that Mustafi and Perez have been training with the team this week, and with that prompting rumours of them both starting, and we are even more excited about our home game against the Saints.
I watched Southampton against MU a few weeks ago and was very impressed with their style of football. They had plenty of half-chances but lacked the quality up front to hurt the Mancs. For a long time the Saints were in the game but then fellow Dutchman, Jordie Clasie, gave away a very bad, unforced penalty and the game was lost. Let’s hope they are as generous with mistakes on Saturday as they were then.
The Saints pass the ball round well and will give us a game in midfield: a battle we must win if we want to take three points from this encounter. So it is important to get the double DM pivot right. I am tempted to play Elneny next to either Xhaka or Coq as he is brilliant in terms of making himself available for a pass and then not losing the ball. For me this will be key.
Having said that, I reckon we could start with Santi as we are playing at home, as long as he is prepared to stay deep when required. Getting this balance right will be vital. I am going to go with both Xhaka and Santi as they add so much to our attacking play and I am hoping we will be able to press Southampton well back into their own half for most of the time. This would suit the three football geniuses Granit, Santi and Mesut very, very well.
I have a feeling that Alexis will be on the bench for this one. After such a long flight it would be wise to rest the Chilean firecracker as we have a massive CL game in midweek. This should allow Arsene to give Perez a debut, and I reckon it will be on the left, with Giroud as our CF and Theo on the other flank. Wenger may start with the Ox on the left and then give Perez a chance later on, but I somehow feel he will opt for the newly acquired Spaniard.
At the back I reckon Wenger will stick with Holding and Koz for this one. Young Holding has been doing very well and I think Wenger will want to ease Mustafi in. I guess it will also be a nice confidence boost for Holding if he is not taken out of the starting eleven straightaway.
So there you have my predicted starting eleven for Saturday’s game. Of course we will find out more about fitness levels and injuries of our players during tomorrow’s press conference, which may change my predictions, but for now this is what I am going for.
How would you line up the team?