Following up one home game with another, let’s take a look at our predicted Arsenal lineup vs Southampton for Wednesday.
For once, we’re not heading from a Premier League game into a Europa League match. Instead, Arsenal are ending the year with a run of domestic games, but they’re still playing every single weekend and midweek.
After the defeat against Burnley on Sunday, Arsenal are hosting Southampton, who currently occupy a spot in the top four. They’ll then travel to Everton on Saturday, so Arteta will have one eye on that game in his team selection.
Still, I wouldn’t expect many changes. For the most part, the Arsenal starting lineup have only been playing once a week for the last couple of months, so their fatigue levels shouldn’t be too high just yet.
Here’s our predicted Arsenal lineup vs Southampton for Wednesday.
The initial optimism about Runar Alex Runarsson’s performances seemed to disappear as he conceded a couple to Dundalk this week. He arguably could’ve done better for the first.
Personally, I think the second was just an unlikely header where if it goes in, there’s little you can do about it. The goalkeeper has also been confident in possession (perhaps overly so at times) which is generally a good thing.
That said, the overall point is that Runarsson doesn’t look like displacing Bernd Leno in the starting lineup.
As usual, I’d expect Kieran Tierney and Gabriel Magalhaes for a Premier League game. It just doesn’t seem like Arteta has a huge amount of faith in the alternatives for those two positions.
Normally I’d say the same about Hector Bellerin at right-back, but he’s out with a yellow-card suspension, so Cedric is likely to take his place.
Rob Holding has made plenty of starts recently too, but he might get a rest for David Luiz or Calum Chambers this time. Arsenal have plenty of games coming up, they need to work those two back in so they’re ready for the festive period.
I wouldn’t bet on Arteta being too adventurous in this area of the pitch, even though he has the option to be. He could start one of the in-form academy midfielders, like Emile Smith Rowe, Joe Willock, or Ainsley Maitland-Niles, if he wanted to.
At this point, however, I’m expecting Mohamed Elneny and Dani Ceballos. Most likely with Alexandre Lacazette in front of them. For a game against a top-performing Southampton side, you just feel Arteta will opt for experience.
To be clear, I think that’s the wrong move, and recent matches should have shown him that blindly sticking with the senior players isn’t working. Smith Rowe or Maitland-Niles should absolutely come in, I’m just not predicting they will.
Granit Xhaka is out with his red-card suspension.
This game marks the end of Nicolas Pepe’s suspension, and he should come back into the starting lineup. It would give Arteta the chance to rest someone, probably Bukayo Saka, and Pepe has served his time out effectively in the Europa League games.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang should keep his place up front, with Willian on the right. Reiss Nelson is an option, but I wouldn’t bet on it given the 20-year-old hasn’t made a Premier League start this season.