Unai Emery’s starting line-up for Thursday night’s 1-0 win over Qarabag in the Europa League for the most part unremarkable. With the Gunners already qualified for the knockout stages of the group, there was little sense in Emery risking injuries to any of his star players.
However, there was one interesting inclusion in the starting line-up in the shape of French forward Alexandre Lacazette. The forward scored the only goal of the game before being substituted.
Emery named a weakened side for Qarabag game
Due to the nature of the game, and the fact Emery would not risk his star players that the players playing are of less of importance to the Gunners Premier League campaign. Very few of the starting line-up against Qarabag will start against Southampton.
Laurent Koscielny and Mesut Ozil could start against the Saints. However, they played to gain some match fitness after injuries. With a busy schedule over the festive period, the Gunners need everybody fit.
The reason for Lacazette playing was less obvious. The Frenchman had an injury a while back, but he has played quite a bit since then. Maybe boss Emery believes he needed the 63 minutes he played to build up his fitness.
Quandary over Lacazette
Emery may have a quandary on his hands. The majority of Arsenal fans would prefer to see Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang starting games together. However, the pair started up front last weekend and the decision did not come off.
However, it is difficult to judge a partnership on 45 minutes of football. Emery has stated in the past that he was unlikely to use the two talented attacking players a pair. The first half against Huddersfield may not do much to change his mind, despite the pair both missing good chances to score.
Aubameyang the first choice
It seems that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is the first choice central striker. If the team is struggling for a goal and the pair are on the pitch Lacazette would be sacrificed before the Gabon international.
I believe that Arsenal better off with their two best attacking players on the pitch. However, it would not surprise me if Lacazette starts Sunday’s game against Southampton on the bench. The Frenchman has done well off the bench of late, but I would imagine he would still be disappointed not to the game, as will his FPL owners.
Will Alexandre Lacazette start Southampton game on the bench?