Arsenal face a trip to struggling Southampton later today and it is a game on paper that the Gunners should comfortably win. The home sides form and confidence are currently very poor, but there are some issues that suggest this could be a banana skin of a match.
The new boss bounce
One of those issues is the prospect of the Saints prospects improving because of the appointment of new boss Ralph Hasenhuttl. The Austrian has had just one game in charge of the team from the south coast, a 1-0 defeat at Cardiff.
However, Hasenhuttl had spent literally only a few days with his players prior to that game. Sunday’s match will be his first home game in charge and although he has not major time with his players, they are sure to be in better shape than under Mark Hughes.
Hasenhuttl proved to be an astute head coach at RB Leipzig and there could very well be a new boss bounce against the Gunners.
Arsenal have limited central defensive options
Only Huddersfield have scored fewer goals than Southampton in the Premier League this season. The Saints have been impotent in attack for the last few seasons, so they should not cause the Gunners that many problems.
However, Arsenal heads into the match without centre-backs Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi through suspension and also Rob Holding who has a long-term injury. Unai Emery’s central defensive options are limited, to say the least.
The most likely solution looks like Laurent Koscielny partnering Nacho Monreal in the heart of defence. The experienced duo have only just returned from injury, though, so are lacking match fitness.
Emery could change his system to three at the back, which probably gives the Gunners more security at the back. Even with Sokratis and Mustafi in defence, the visitors have looked vulnerable to opposition attacks, so it could be a testing afternoon in defence.
A trip to the south coast could be a test of improvement
Sunday’s game is the sort game that Arsenal may have slipped up in under former boss Arsene Wenger. In fact, I remember the Gunners struggling at Southampton in a few of their relatively recent trips to the south coast.
However, the Gunners seem to be slightly tougher under Unai Emery, proven by their 22-game unbeaten run. I just hope the bad feeling about this game I have is nothing but a warning from the past.
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