After progressing to the last-16 of the Europa League in midweek, Arsenal return to Premier League action on Sunday, hosting Southampton at the Emirates Stadium.
Thanks to that victory over BATE Borisov, Arsenal don’t have to put all their eggs in the Premier League basket just yet. The Europa League still provides a route to Champions League qualification, but Unai Emery will surely push for a top-four domestic finish in case that doesn’t work out.
With Manchester United playing Liverpool and Chelsea taking the weekend off for the League Cup final, Arsenal have a fantastic opportunity to get themselves back into fourth against the Saints. They’ll be wary of their opponents after losing the reverse fixture 3-2, though.
The Gunners have a game every weekend and midweek from now until the international break at the end of March, so Emery is likely to rotate a bit from game to game. Let’s have a look at our predicted lineup for this one.
1Goalkeeper and Defence
Petr Cech played Arsenal’s last two matches in the Europa League, and he did a decent enough job, even if he wasn’t tested particularly often. However, it seems Emery still considers Bernd Leno his Premier League goalkeeper, so the German international should come back in for this match.
In defence, Emery should go with a back four, after it worked so much better on Thursday than the recent back three attempts. Plus, with Laurent Koscielny a doubt with a minor injury, Arsenal are running low on centre-backs anyway.
The full-back positions pretty much take care of themselves as a result. Whilst Sead Kolasinac and Ainsley Maitland-Niles are clearly preferred as wing-backs, Emery appears to trust Nacho Monreal and Stephan Lichtsteiner more as full-backs. Factoring in Maitland-Niles’ illness as well, the latter pair seem most likely to start.
As mentioned, it appears Koscielny will miss out on this one with his injury, meaning a return to the starting eleven for Sokratis Papastathopoulos. He should start alongside Shkodran Mustafi. Konstantinos Mavropanos is available, but he’ll probably make another substitute appearance or two before he gets starts.
Click ‘Next’ for Midfield, Forwards and the full Predicted Starting XI