Inside Track: Arsenal

By SFC Media Fri 22 Feb Arsenal v Saints
Photo by Getty Images | Unai Emery

Ahead of Southampton's trip to Emirates Stadium on Sunday, Football London's Arsenal reporter Charles Watts gives us his insight on Saints' opponents...

The last time Arsenal faced Southampton, they went into the game on the back of a long unbeaten run. How have things changed since that game in December?

Things have changed a lot. Arsenal were the model of consistency back then, and they are anything but that now. It’s a win, followed by a defeat, followed by a win. No matter what they do right now, they can’t get themselves back on the winning run they really need.

The big issue is away from home, though. At home they are still strong and still picking up wins on a regular basis. That’s what is keeping them in the hunt for the top four.

i don't think there will be too many changes from thursday.

charles watts
arsenal reporter

What are the current confidence levels like there?

It depends where they are playing. Like I said, when they are at the Emirates they are always confident that they can win.

They haven’t lost at home in the league since the opening day of the season against Manchester City and they’ve only been held to a draw twice. So they will be confident of getting maximum points on Sunday, especially after an important win in the Europa League on Thursday night.

How have they been playing at home in recent games?

Pretty well. They haven’t been fantastic, but they have been doing enough to get the win.

On Thursday night they were very comfortable in the Europa League. The opposition was poor but Arsenal were still under a lot of pressure after what happened in the first leg and they coped with that well.

In the end it was a comfortable night, which was not what most of us were expecting when we turned up before the game. The win against Chelsea last month was excellent. They were not so good against Cardiff, but still got the job done.

Are you expecting many changes from Thursday, and what sort of an approach would you expect Unai Emery to use this Sunday?

I don’t think there will be too many. Unai Emery picked a very strong team against BATE and I can see him sticking with most of those players on Sunday.

Sokratis will come in at centre-back, potentially for Laurent Koscielny who went off injured in the second half on Thursday night. Ainsley Maitland-Niles missed the game due to illness and he should return at right-back.

Arsenal's Mesut Özil in action on Thursday night (Photo: Getty Images)

Emery must decide whether to bring Alexandre Lacazette back in. He was suspended on Thursday night and that allowed Emery to set up with his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation, with Mesut Özil playing behind Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the number ten role.

That is Arsenal’s best formation and it’s the one Emery should stick with. But that could mean leaving Lacazette on the bench.

Who are the main players you think Southampton will have to watch out for?

Mesut Özil showed everyone how good he can be on Thursday night. He was back in the team and back dictating play with his clever passing and movement. Aubameyang obviously is a player Southampton must limit the supply to if they want to get anything out of the game.

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