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Southampton Arsenal: a chance to test the theory that we don’t need a new centre half

By Bulldog Drummond

Our recent (and on going) series on what will really happen in terms of transfers next month has already suggested that goalkeepers and wing backs are not on the agenda.  But when it comes to centre backs (or as we used to say in the ancient days, centre halves) there could be a case given that Per is retiring, Kos gets injured and Mustafi has left (well, according to the media he was 100% certain to leave last summer, so I suppose he must have done since these guys are never wrong).

And sure enough Football London, a bloggetta whose publishers have never heard of “emotional blink,” (the psychological reaction to an overload of advertisements which actually turns the reader off the product being advertised when there are too many pop up adverts, rather than draw him/her to the ads)  rings out with the headline “Arsène Wenger has a selection headache”.  Which is about Mustafi who actually is injured.

So for once we have a question: who plays in his place?

Of course we don’t have to replace him if we go over to a back four.  But this notion of course changes the whole shape of what happens in front of the back four, and some are suggesting it paves the way for Jack Wilshere to return to League action, although I suspect after such careful handling Jack won’t be given a starting role just three days after a full (if easy) match.

So staying with the three at the back, the list of obvious candidates is fairly obvious: Per Mertesacker, who noticeably didn’t play against BATE, Rob Holding who is obviously up and coming and needs games when he can get them, and didn’t have too much to do in the BATE match, and was certainly the flavour of the end of last season, and Calum Chambers who at last is coming back to life after playing in the outer reaches of the country where the wind, ice and rain, reign supreme, [that would be Middlesbrough – Tony].

Let’s take a look at the home and away tables, which thus far this season has been a fairly good guide to the way the match will be approached.

In the home league table we’ve sunk down because of the defeat to Man U, and Southampton are 10th.

Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
1 Manchester City 8 7 1 0 28 6 22 22
2 Manchester United 7 7 0 0 20 1 19 21
3 Arsenal 8 7 0 1 21 7 14 21
4 Chelsea 8 5 1 2 13 7 6 16
5 Liverpool 7 4 3 0 13 2 11 15
6 Everton 8 5 0 3 14 12 2 15
7 Leicester City 8 4 1 3 11 9 2 13
8 Tottenham Hotspur 7 3 3 1 9 5 4 12
9 Burnley 7 3 2 2 5 3 2 11
10 Southampton 8 3 2 3 10 9 1 11

Southampton are thus solidly a mid-table home team, with three wins, two draws and three defeats.  They are akin to Tottenham in goalscoring with a fairly most 10 goals (that is just over one a game) although this is mid-table average, as is their goals conceded.

Arsenal’s away form suffered at the start of the season of course… but we’ve climbed up to mid-table.

Pos Team Pld W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 7 7 0 0 18 4 14 21
2 Chelsea 7 5 1 1 15 5 10 16
3 Manchester United 8 4 2 2 15 8 7 14
4 Liverpool 8 4 2 2 20 17 3 14
5 Burnley 8 4 2 2 9 9 0 14
6 Tottenham Hotspur 8 4 1 3 14 8 6 13
7 Watford 7 4 1 2 15 10 5 13
8 Leicester City 7 1 4 2 9 11 -2 7
9 Brighton and Hove Albion 7 2 1 4 5 7 -2 7
10 Arsenal 7 2 1 4 8 12 -4 7

So not too clever from us, but there have been signs of improvement although based on these tables the most likely outcome looks like a draw, unless of course the front three really click.

Between 2003 and 2014 we had a 10 match unbeaten run against Southampton, but since then it has been a more bumpy ride against a club that has on occasion used industrial styled football to hold passing teams in check.

Date Game Res Score Competition
23 Sep 2014 Arsenal v Southampton L 1-2 League Cup
03 Dec 2014 Arsenal v Southampton W 1-0 Premier League
01 Jan 2015 Southampton v Arsenal L 2-0 Premier League
26 Dec 2015 Southampton v Arsenal L 4-0 Premier League
02 Feb 2016 Arsenal v Southampton D 0-0 Premier League
10 Sep 2016 Arsenal v Southampton W 2-1 Premier League
30 Nov 2016 Arsenal v Southampton L 0-2 League Cup
28 Jan 2017 Southampton v Arsenal W 0-5 FA Cup
10 May 2017 Southampton v Arsenal W 0-2 Premier League

Four wins in those last nine, four defeats and a draw.  The best spin we can put on this is that three of the last four have been wins and the one defeat was in a League Cup game last year.  Our team for that game was

Martinez

Jenkinson, Gabriel, Holding, Gibbs

Coquelin, Elneny,

Reine Adelaide, Ramsey

Iwobi, Perez

a line up that we might call an experimental reserve team.  Of that team only Holding, Coquelin, Elneny and Ramsey could start on Sunday.  Interesting to see the Coqueline / Elneny duopoly in the centre of defensive midfield – a pairing so derided by the Guardian on Thursday, until the anonymous author had to pretend he hadn’t written his preview, and was forced to praise them.  (See Arsenal II hit six for more).   The FA Cup match on 28 January this year however was a totally different affair.

More anon…

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8 comments to Southampton Arsenal: a chance to test the theory that we don’t need a new centre half

  • para

    Let us want to win this game to keep in touch at the top of the table. 🙂

    A riddle;
    Who said this?
    “He said his focus was only on developing a strategy to beat Mourinho’s side.”

    We(football fans) have to admit the game between ManU and ManC is the game this week.

  • We have to style up and be rough but smart to be ruthless and gadamn start shooting from outside the 18 yard box. What happens in the training ground you guys who go down there? Carzola used to shot outside the 18 yard box we miss you,he wanst shootin any more,Sanchez he no longer shoots, Xhaka,Ramsey and sometimes Monreal. What the fuck happened? If we where shooting as we usually did Manure could be dead meat. On Sunday let’s not be to clinical,scoring in the 16 yard box,if we shoot I’m going for 4-:2.

  • Gord

    State Aid beating Chelsea. 1-0 in goals and 6-1 in yellows.

    Nearly last breath. Go State Aid!

  • para

    Signs are shaping up that we will probably lose this game, with Chelsea losing.

    We do not tend to do well when others open the gates to allow us to catch them.

    So concentrate lads and please please change that.

  • Gord

    Well, if we are going to get help in todays games, I would like to see a tie in Burnley v Watford, and otherwise all home wins except for Stoke beating the Tottenspud.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    My 11 starting XI and 7 on the bench Gunners for Arsenal vs Southampton Premier League match on Sunday are:

    Cech
    Koscielny Mertesacker Monreal
    Bellerin Ramsey Xhaka Kolasniac
    Oezil Sanchez
    Lacazzete.

    Bench:
    Ospina Holding Chambers Wilshere Coquelin Welbeck Giroud.

    I am strongly of the believe my above Arsenal starts and bench will not be different from the starts and bench Le Boss will play for this match tomorrow to undoubtedly beat Southampton by the final scoreline of 0-3 away win at St Marys.

    While we are awaiting the outcome of the Tottenham Hotspur vs Stoke City match, news emanating from the London Stadium showed David Moyes’ rejuvenated West Ham team has hammered Chelsea by 1 painful goal to nil to allow Arsenal to reduce the gap in the table between the Blues and the Gunners to 1 point after the must have beaten the Saints. Hmmm.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    My 11 starting XI and 7 on the bench Gunners for Southampton vs Arsenal Premier League match on Sunday are:

    Cech
    Koscielny Mertesacker Monreal
    Bellerin Ramsey Xhaka Kolasniac
    Oezil Sanchez
    Lacazzete.

    Bench:
    Ospina Holding Chambers Wilshere Coquelin Welbeck Giroud.

    I am strongly of the believe my above Arsenal starts and bench will not be different from the starts and bench Le Boss will play for this match tomorrow to undoubtedly beat Southampton by the final scoreline of 0-3 away win at St Marys.

    While we are awaiting the outcome of the Tottenham Hotspur vs Stoke City match, news emanating from the London Stadium showed David Moyes’ rejuvenated West Ham team has hammered Chelsea by 1 painful goal to nil to allow Arsenal to reduce the gap in the table between the Blues and the Gunners to 1 point after they must have beaten the Saints. Hmmm.

    Sorry for my reposting.

  • Ferg

    I think your one step closer to an answer.
    And the other two weren’t even at the airport, let alone the beach ffs.