Arsenal are back in Premier League action this weekend as Unai Emery’s side take on out-of-form Southampton at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Team news: Emery must decide whether to hand Mesut Ozil a third consecutive start in the top flight as the Gunners look to take apart a Southampton side without a Premier League win since September 17. Dani Ceballos is definitely out with a thigh injury, though Granit Xhaka could be reintroduced. Their Swiss has not been included in a matchday squad since their draw with Crystal Palace, where he is was stripped of the captaincy following his reaction to boos from the home fans.
Transfer news and rumours: Arsenal are being linked, along with Manchester United, with a move for Hartlepool’s teenage goalkeeper Brad Young (Sun), while Egypt international Mohamed Elneny is reportedly attracting interest from AC Milan (Calciomercato).
Follow all the latest Arsenal news below.
Arsenal: Leno; Chambers, David Luiz, Holding; Bellerin, Torreira, Guendouzi, Tierney; Ozil; Lacazette, Aubameyang
Southampton: McCarthy; Bednarek, Stephens, Vestergaard; Armstrong, Ward-Prowse, Romeu, Cedric; Redmond, Ings, Djenepo
Southampton team news
As for the Saints, Ryan Bertrand will be back from suspension, and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is on the comeback trail from concussion.
However, circumstances may force Emery’s hand.
Dani Ceballos is on the road to recovery and could be back in contention from a thigh injury, though the Spaniard’s possible absence could make Emery think again on Xhaka’s exile.
Early team news
Having been exiled after being stripped of the captaincy, Granit Xhaka’s fate at the club remains unclear.
Emery has remained tight-lipped over whether the Switzerland international will be considered for selection again, and, with the January transfer window approaching, Xhaka could well be left out before the club attempt to sell him.
Arsenal vs Southampton
So, with Emery needing a win, the fixture list could scarcely have been kinder than with a home game against Southampton.
The Saints are struggling in 19th position and, having conceded 29 goals in 12 games, are currently the leakiest defence in the top flight.
A vital run
The Gunners then take on Norwich away, Brighton at home, and West Ham and Standard Liege away, before hosting Manchester City on December 15.
Olley reports that “… the club’s next six matches are seen as an opportunity to arrest the present decline”, and Emery will need to prove himself.
Six key games
As it stands, Arsenal now look at a favourable run of fixtures after the international break.
Standard Sport’s chief football correspondent James Olley understands that Emery has six key games, after which Arsenal will assess where they stand regarding the coach.
So, attentions are beginning to turn back to Premier League football following England’s international exploits.
The international break arguably came at a good time for Arsenal – Unai Emery is under pressure, but any further setbacks may have given the board a tough decision to make.
Welcome to the Evening Standard’s rolling Arsenal news coverage.
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