Southampton Preview: Three Points or Bust

Southampton arrive at the Emirates in a match we must win. Liverpool can do us a favour by winning at Manchester United while Chelsea face Manchester City at Wembley. Remember what City did to us twice in a matter of days last year…? That would certainly do us a favour, especially as Chelsea play Tottenham in midweek.

Much of the focus for today is on Mesut Ozil. Of course he’ll play; it’s a home match against a relegation team, not an away game against a top six side. He’ll develop an illness in midweek which will turn into a spasm on Thursday, I’m sure…

I bet he wishes he had Shkodran Mustafi’s luck. No matter how terrible his performances are, injuries keep him the side. Ozil would probably be one of those who is injured to allow Mustafi to continue his reign of terror.

It’s not going to be a dissimilar match to Thursday. Southampton want to avoid defeat; three would be ideal but just a single one takes them out of the bottom three. As such, they won’t play on the front foot and we will see a lot of the ball.

If we get the bounce of the ball again and an early goal, so much the better. They will have to open up a bit more. Which is where Ozil is at his most effective.

In all honesty, I don’t expect many changes to the line-up. Ainsley Maitland-Niles for Lichtsteiner, Torreira for Guendouzi, Lacazette for Aubameyang; shuffling the pack a little but trying to avoid losing momentum. The performances aren’t great but we’re more interested in the results. That’s the reality; the two aren’t mutually exclusive but one is more important as Claude Puel found out this morning.

Xhaka Can

It’s a sign of our situation that Granit Xhaka, like many others, finds himself questioned and his value to the team under the microscope. I’m not saying he is anywhere near as good as Gilberto Silva but for years the Brazilian would only be noticed when he was absent.

I’m first to admit the Swiss drives me nuts with his lackadaisical approach to defending at times but then he delivers as he did in midweek and you appreciate what he brings. There’s a similarity between the statistical evidence warranting his inclusion in the XI and that of Mesut Ozil. Arsenal play better with him than when he is absent.

Is it a case that in this current set-up, Xhaka and Ozil are both needed? Until Emery gets the players he wants in the squad, until he gets the defence sorted out, then he isn’t going to dispense with one or both. Xhaka retains his confidence for his willingness to work hard for the team. Playing at left-back when Emery needed him to is the attitude he desires from players.

It’s the attitude he doesn’t see in Ozil.

Xhaka spoke for us all about this afternoon:

If you remember the first two games of the season, we were six points behind Chelsea. We were not so good. But now we are one point behind Manchester United. They have a big game at home against Liverpool. We hope after this game we can be where we want.

Granit Xhaka on the season

Live and Let Die

He had an interesting take on life under Emery.

Of course, it’s not so easy for [Emery] as well. He needs time. He needs to learn better and better and better. But I think we work very well with him and all the players are happy. We now have important weeks in front of us. It’s a week where you can see the way where we go.

Xhaka on Emery

The coach is still adapting to English football and England in much the same way as players must. Few acknowledge the situation of the Spaniard; is he living in a hotel still? Is his family here – I seem to recall one of his sons was/is on Valencia’s books? Adaptation is not the sole preserve of players.

It’s not a side issue but for 90 minutes gets pushed to one side. The line-up to help do that is likely to be completely different to this one:

Leno; Maitland-Niles, Mustafi, Sokratis, Kolasinac; Torreira, Xhaka; Ramsey, Ozil, Suarez; Lacazette

Honestly, if Suarez doesn’t start today, I’d genuinely question why he was signed. Ramsey is something of a punt, to be honest. We know he can do a job, it’s just whether Emery wants or needs him to but with an intense fortnight ahead, surely he will need to use the squad to its fullest extent?

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

36 thoughts on “Southampton Preview: Three Points or Bust

  1. Paulie Walnuts says:

    It’s true UE is still learning all about managing in England.

    Even Pep & his cheque book took a while but I still think Unai has been surprised by how difficult even the most straight forward looking games can be.

    Three points please today please. Not fussed about performance or if the winner rolls in off someone’s bollocks.

  2. C says:

    People forget that Klopp innhis first season didm’t fair well, Pep in his first finished 3rd I think and stressed style of play over actual silverware. Emery is learning that England is less tactical as our most of the players which is a far cry from every other league. With that, he will learn and I have faith he will get jt right.

    Ozil has to play, and its intereating that Xhaka has added to those that say Ozil is important to Arsenal on the pitch. Yogi, I actually agree with you, we may suffer a bit defensively (I mean, we defend like shit when they aren’t in the team too) but we play better with Xhaka and Ozil in the side. I think Guendouzi has all the potential to be top quality maybe even world class but at present he is still learning too.

  3. ferkov says:

    Nice 4th minute OG would be perfect. Just not one of ours please.
    Mustafi hasn’t got one of those on his book yet!🙈

    Thanks Yogi. Nice line up. Back to subbing on Auba at half time? That was when we looked like we were a threat. Seems so long ago now.

    COYG

  4. C says:

    I feel a bit for Puel, he got sacked when he was at Southampton when they were 8th and now at Leicester when their 12th and the signs where there. O well.

  5. andy1886 says:

    Ramsey in, Ozil and Suarez both on the bench.

  6. C says:

    Team news:

    Leno
    Lichtsteiner—Mustafi—-Sokaritis—-Sead
    Xhaka—-Torriera
    Mhkitaryan—Ramsey—–Iwobi
    Lacazette

    Subs: Cech, Kos, Nacho, Guendouzi, Suarez, Ozil, Aubameyang

  7. C says:

    andy1886,

    I think whats more interesting is that Mhkitaryan continues to start and almost feels like no matter his performance he will get the nod. Its really strange.

  8. Noon Gunner says:

    Can someone please come up with a ‘footballing’ reason for Ozil being on the bench for this game – a reason that avoids assuming UE is petty-minded?

  9. ferkov says:

    Like Yogi said. Why the fuck did we sign Suarez then?
    At least we didn’t agree to the compulsory purchase ! Thank heavens for small mercies.

  10. Welsh corgi cardigan says:

    C,

    Well, maybe we get somewhat more coherent with Miki in the team. I think he loses the ball, miss shots and look way of pace.

    But then again things seems more glued together with him in the he team?

  11. C says:

    Welsh corgi cardigan,

    I think he might understand better but if Emery bangs on about performance(a theme throughout his career), then the inclusion of Mhkitaryan despite everything is odd.

    I do wonder what the players think about Ozil being dropped after even Sokaritis said how important he is to us on thr pitch.

  12. C says:

    Big match though, no matter who starts or comes off the bench, 3 points is vital. 3 points and plenty of goals scored by us please.

  13. andy1886 says:

    Arsenal boss Unai Emery said midfielder Mesut Ozil would continue to be rotated after making only his second start of 2019 in the Europa League victory over Bate Borisov on Thursday.

    The Gunners reached the last 16 as a 3-0 win at Emirates Stadium took them through 3-1 on aggregate.

    Ozil, 30, played the full 90 minutes for the first time since December.

    Emery said Arsenal will need the German “sometimes in the starting XI and sometimes on the bench”.

  14. thrillbo says:

    Good luck today to the boys. No shane long in sight, that makes me feel comfortable. Hopefully he didnt teach any of his buddies the secret of hoofing it over Mustafi’s head and chasing down.

    All seriousness, I like the line up today. What happened to the 5 at the back formation?? I’m glad to see 4 at the back, will it provide more attacking impetus???

    Come on you gunners

  15. Colts says:

    Southampton comes posing as our away form, thanks lads.

    Laca RCLT zette!!!

  16. Noon Gunner says:

    Excellent save by Leno, then the neatest flick by Laca! But we’re still taking such risks playing out from the back.

  17. Colts says:

    Brilliant ball from iwobe, composed from Mickey

  18. Colts says:

    Laca wants to see another red it seems, petulant.

  19. Noon Gunner says:

    That’s a couple of times where Laca has taken an extra touch in their area, losing a scoring opportunity. The more frustrating since he’s getting into such good positions.

  20. Noon Gunner says:

    Brilliant from Lichtsteiner, selfless from Sead…what was that from Laca??

  21. Colts says:

    Crazy miss, it happens when your rattled, kudos saints for the wind up

  22. Colts says:

    Xhaka slaps redmond on the back of the head, could get real silly 2nd half…

  23. C says:

    Colts,

    Thats just part of Lacazette’s game, if you watch him. He constantly is bordering on niggling/tackling and fouling players when he is pressing and tracking. I think I read somewhere he has the most fouls given away of all the Arsenal players.

  24. Colts says:

    C,

    Indeed I usually enjoy his tenacity, but today he appears stressed, unfocused.

  25. Noon Gunner says:

    For all our excellent approach play at times, we’ve been so un-clinical in front of goal. Could have had several more.

  26. C says:

    Colts,

    Think you’ll get that from time to time with a player like that.

  27. lari03 says:

    4th temporarily till next round of matches!

  28. C says:

    lari03,

    I think we can stay there and getting all 3 points against Bournemouth will keep the pressure on Manure and Chelsea.

  29. Bill says:

    Great preview Yogi

    I think any statistical evidence that correlates our ability to win with Xhaka or Ozil is pure statistical coincidence. Same would be true of Ramsey, Mkhitaryan, Iwobe, Guendouzi, Mustafi, Kos etc. If you go by todays game then you would say Ramsey and Mkhitaryan are must start players. Anyone who by happenstance was starting most of the games during the 22 game unbeaten run is going to correlated with a better winning percentage. The only players in the current squad who I think are must start players are Pea and Lacazette and perhaps Torriera.

    It was great to see us get off to a strong start today. I think we let off the gas for the rest of the match but we kept another clean sheet. 2 clean sheets in a row is almost an historic event. After all of the complaining about Emery we now sit in 4th place and we never came close last year. There are some disappointing things about the first year of the Emery era but based on our position in the table alone we are much better and we are on pace to collect a lot more points then last season so there has certainly been significant improvement over the last season of the Wenger era.

  30. Bill says:

    We do have to give Xhaka credit for delivering accurate corner kicks in the mid week game.

  31. Bill says:

    I think we can safely dismiss the idea that Raul or someone in our front office ordered Emery not to use Mesut Ozil.

  32. C says:

    Gooners worldwide: WE WON THE EUROPA LEAGUE CROWN!!!!

    Bill: Thats good but it wasn’t the Champions League so who really cares!

    😂😂

  33. Opus says:

    It was a good display by the team to get this win and be in the 4th position at the moment. Let’s carry the momentum into our next game and win all 3 points. COYG!!!

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