After resting players and starting Francis Coquelin and Alexis Sánchez at the weekend, Arsenal must be the closest they’ve been to full strength for quite some time.
75% of our settled back four got a break at the weekend, as did goalkeeper Petr Čech, so they should be raring to go on Tuesday night as Southampton come to the Emirates Stadium. Unfortunately the same back five started when we lost 4-0 to the Saints just a few weeks ago, but the referee had an odd day and they scored one screamer.
Nonetheless, hopefully everyone is refreshed from their weekend off and Laurent Koscielny can start to play himself back into form after another shaky display.
In front of the defence, Aaron Ramsey will almost definitely start but we don’t yet know who his partner will be. You get the impression we’ve seen the last of Mathieu Flamini, but Arsène Wenger may be tempted to be cautious with Francis Coquelin, who started for the first time in two months at the weekend. It really is between him and Mohamed Elneny but, with the Egyptian not yet acclimatised to English football, expect Coquelin to keep his place.
Mesut Özil should also be back in the side after the weekend off, and he can finally start playing with Alexis again. The two haven’t played together enough since Alexis arrived in England but hopefully they can both stay fit now and help us in the title race. Fingers crossed.
The other two positions in the front four are up for grabs, with three men all having claims to them. Theo Walcott has been struggling to impact games from the left wing, but it’s an unnatural position for him to be used in. With Alexis back, Theo can play on the right or up front. I fancy that Wenger will start him up top against his former club, meaning Joel Campbell will get the nod to play on the right and Olivier Giroud will have to settle for a place on the bench.