Arsenal v Southampton: the preview, plus Bellerin’s quick recovery

By Tony Attwood

Lucas Perez is being tipped to play again in the League Cup quarter-final against Southampton tonight; Olivier Giroud has an injury – either hamstring or groin depending on the source of information.  The Giroud injury is said not to be too serious and that omitting him tonight is just a precaution.

Chuba Akpom’s back injury will most likely keep him out until into the new year and he is now scheduled to be back (although not match fit) by the beginning of January.  There is no return date for Santi Cazorla or Debuchy at the moment.

Perez has not had a game since the last round in this competition, because of his injury and his availability means that Walcott and Alexis can be given the night off.  So it looks like another night of backup players and promising youth.   Southampton may well do the same as they are still in the Europa.

Emiliano Martinez most certainly should play having just signed a new long-term contract with Arsenal – which says a lot about how much the club value him and how much he appreciates Arsenal – what with there being two internationals ahead of him.  But I also wonder if they told him how much longer Cech might play and suggested that Martinez will step up to being first team deputy in a year or so.

What’s also noteworthy is that he hasn’t let a goal in, in the two previous EFL Cup games, which gives a good feeling to the defence in front of him.  This will, I think, be his 11th game for Arsenal.

The other names being bandied around for tonight are Ainsley Naitland-Miles, Rob Holding, Kieran Gibbs, Gabriel, Alex Iwobi, Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Kristian Bielik, and Stephy Mavididi.

Mavididi was not involved in the last round, but he was the under-21s’ top goalscorer last season, getting 17 in 30 games.

So in defence it will be all change with Carl Jenkinson, Gabriel Paulista, Rob Holding and Kieran Gibbs forming the line.  But the midfield is harder to pick: Mohamed Elneny, Francis Coquelin, Alex Oxlade‑Chamberlain, Alex Iwobi, Aaron Ramsey, Granit Xhaka, Jeff Reine‑Adélaïde and Ainsley Maitland-Niles all might expect a game.

Mr Wenger has also explained that he gave Jenkinson time off in the last match to help his long term recovery…

“I rested Carl completely against Bournemouth because he had played in two big games [Manchester United and Paris St-Germain] and I felt he needed a breather. Sometimes, mentally, three games in a week demands a lot. Carl’s back in and we’ll put Gabriel in the centre.”

In another bit of injury news Hector Bellerin has declared that he is on course to return in less time than previously predicted as his recovery is going faster that expected, so that could mean he is available for some of the Christmas/New Year period.  He suggested he would start running again during this week.

Interestingly the newspapers are suddenly getting very excited about what Arsenal have been doing for years – bringing players through.   Whereas in the summer there was a farcical interest in everyone who was being bought, now (particularly because of Liverpool!) there is an interest in youngsters coming up through the ranks.

Southampton are being talked up in the same light, and indeed Koeman is being blamed for not having had enough faith in their own young players (Reed, Targett, James, Ward-Prowse, Sims, Hesketh and McQueen are the names sometimes mentioned).

Mr Wenger said, “Southampton have certainly been the most prolific producers of top talent in England in the last 15 years; they have not only produced talent, but top talents.    We have some examples at our club but don’t forget they’ve also produced top quality players like Gareth Bale and Adam Lallana. They do not only produce quality players; they scout very well.”

The Southampton manager Claude Puel got his first chance in coaching by working under Arsene Wenger when they were together at Monaco and he said recently that both men share the same philosophy in terms of developing players.

But the manager also said, “This competition is an opportunity for Southampton to win something,” so it might well be that most of the team are experienced rather than younger players this time.   Besides, Southampton used Josh Sims who is 19 in their match against Everton at the weekend so perhaps it is indeed this cup they are after.

Here’s the bits and pieces of sequences, runs and silly statistics…

  • Arsenal’s last three home League Cup games against Premier League clubs have ended in defeat, with just one goal scored.
  • Arsenal have lost four of the last five quarter finals in the League Cup they have played in.  But…
  • Arsenal have lost just one of the last seven League Cup games with Southampton.
  • Southampton have lost all their seven league cup semi-finals
  • The Ox is the top scorer in the League Cup this season (4).
Here’s the team we used in the last round of the cup…
Holding   Gabriel   Gibbs   Jenkinson
Iwobi   Elneny   Maitland-Niles
The Ox   Lucas     Reine‑Adélaïde
The subs used were Willock, Zelalem and Giroud
And courtesy of 11 v 11 here’s the games from 2003 onwards…
07 May 2003 Arsenal v Southampton W 6-1 Premier League
17 May 2003 Arsenal v Southampton W 1-0 FA Cup
29 Dec 2003 Southampton v Arsenal W 0-1 Premier League
10 Feb 2004 Arsenal v Southampton W 2-0 Premier League
30 Oct 2004 Arsenal v Southampton D 2-2 Premier League
26 Feb 2005 Southampton v Arsenal D 1-1 Premier League
15 Sep 2012 Arsenal v Southampton W 6-1 Premier League
01 Jan 2013 Southampton v Arsenal D 1-1 Premier League
23 Nov 2013 Arsenal v Southampton W 2-0 Premier League
28 Jan 2014 Southampton v Arsenal D 2-2 Premier League
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

Since Southampton returned to the top league after a six year holidays in the second tier, we’ve won four, lost three and drawn three.   Time to improve on that record I think.

Tales from Untold 

Wenger ponders whether Yaya Sanogo will ever really be good enough for Arsenal. 


How a referee can bend a match to fix the result: the inside story

And then suddenly football is not that important anymore

Supporting is the name of the game

Arsenal – Bournemouth: the travels, the catering, the laughter and fun

Arsenal Bournemouth 3-1: the view from block 110

After the victory: Showaddywaddy lives and the football journalist who writes 10 articles a day


7 Replies to “Arsenal v Southampton: the preview, plus Bellerin’s quick recovery”

  1. Oh it is league cup time.
    As usual a very double feeling about this match.
    I want Arsenal to win, because that is what I always want.
    But if you would give me the choice between winning and losing 1 or 2 players for a few weeks with injury or losing the match and having everyone completely fit…. a tough choice to make….

  2. On the subject of youth players, it is good to see that Liverpool are now bringing some forward, including Winburn, who became the youngest ever scorer last night. However, I find that the media frenzy that has followed to be somewhat excessive. I’m fairly sure that there would be hardly any mention of a similar situation concerning an Arsenal player.

  3. Zelalem played the full 90 minutes for the U23s on Monday night so may be on the beach but unlikely to start. The next game for the U23s is on Mon 12 Dec at Anfield and he is too old for the UEFA Youth League so could well be included this evening. Mavididi has been in pretty good form this year and will almost certainly be involved this evening. He is being pushed very hard again this year by Nketiah who got his first U23 goals on Monday – all three of them. Unlikely for him to be included tonight though as there are two U18 games plus the trip to Basel next week. I’ll bet that Chelsea are cursing that they released him three years ago.

  4. I believe Arsenal are more than prepared to knockout Southampton at the ELC quaterfinal match today’s night at the Emirates Stadium and qualify for the semi-final stage of the competition. No resistant or resilient attempt whatsoever put up in the game against Arsenal by the Claude Puel’s Southampton team can stop Arsenal from realising their aims and objectives to win the English League Cup title this season irrespective of whether Southampton have an ambition too to win it will at the end of this match not count. For, Arsenal will beat the Saints hands down to submission.

  5. ‘I’m fairly sure that there would be hardly any mention of a similar situation concerning an Arsenal player.’
    It’s probably good that our players don’t get overhyped, although Wilshere, Theo & Jay Emmanuel-Thomas received plenty of media attention at similar ages.

  6. Va Cong

    The media go OTT on any young English player no matter who he plays for, but unfortunately many just don’t really make it. I think Rashford & Stones were the most recent before this lad. Hope he does well (took his goal well), there’s some decent talent coming through here & there, but you can rely on the media to build them up only to kick them when they’re down.

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