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Arsenal will have to encounter a tricky encounter in the form of an away trip to Southampton if they are to advance in the FA Cup. The match will be played on Saturday which will see the Premier League fixtures shifted back a couple of days which in turn might make the managers think about utilising their bench strength to an extent. Arsenal’s exit from the EFL Cup might come as a boon as Wenger and his boys will get an opportunity to remain fresh for the encounter.
Southampton, on the other hand, have a big match against Liverpool in the EFL Cup against Liverpool to deal with. And with the Saints carrying forward a slender 1-0 advantage to Anfield, things are expected to get pretty intense. But they have been dealt a blow with the possible lengthy injury lay-off for Virgil van Dijk. And with Jose Fonte moving to West Ham, things can turn pretty nasty for the Saints and they will most likely get to work in the transfer market for at least 1 central defender.
Back to back games against Liverpool and Arsenal is not easy and with both matches equally important in their own space, it is likely to be a difficult week for Claude Puel and his group who recently ended a torrid 4-game losing streak.
PREDICTED ARSENAL LINE-UP VS SOUTHAMPTON (4-2-3-1)
Ospina will come into the side with Petr Cech getting a much-needed rest. He will look to keep a clean sheet and impress his manager and hope for increased opportunities in the future. Gabriel has been played at right-back lately but with Bellerin fit, we might see him come into the team now. In that case, Gabriel and Mustafi might form the centre-back pairing although Rob Holding provides an alternative. In left-back, it is likely to be Gibbs who gets a game.
With Granit Xhaka ensuring he spends more time banned than eligible to play in his first season and Cazorla still injured and thus unavailable along with Elneny who is at AFCON, it is likely to be Coquelin and Ramsey in the double pivot. The Wales star will look to give a good account of himself after falling down the pecking order in recent weeks. In the No. 10 role, it is likely to be Iwobi.
On the left, we might see Oxlade-Chamberlain. The rumours surrounding the youngster’s future are unsettling and he will look to put all the speculation to rest with a competent display. Lucas Perez is likely to be on the right wing with forgotten man Welbeck most likely leading the line.