Arsene Wenger revealed the team news ahead of the game against Southampton and the manager said that it would pretty much be the same squad, barring a doubtful Danny Welbeck who is suffering from a thigh problem after the West Ham game.
Arsene talked about more squad rotation, but also stressed the need to have a strong starting XI, especially since Southampton were no pushovers.
Arsene said, “We have Southampton which is another game that will demand a high intensity and commitment, so I will have to look at how we recovered because we gave a lot in the last two games in 48 hours. It’s down now to the quality of the recovery.
Rotation is a sensitive subject because you can destabilise your team with too much rotation. So you have to find the right numbers for rotating the team. Overall, you want to keep the balance of your team and as well refresh sometimes in the positions where players are a bit tired.”
Tomas Rosicky is back in the squad after being rested, and Arsene said Walcott will once again be in the squad.
He said, “Walcott is involved because he was already in the squad. Of course I judge him a bit short on the competition front but on the fitness front he is ready to play.”
Regarding Aaron Ramsey’s progress, he said, “Ramsey is not available yet. There’s no setback but because he had a setback last year, we have to be very cautious with his thigh – he was out for three months.”
On the whole, the team is not majorly affected for the Southampton game, but it will all depend on how much fatigue the players are suffering from. Particular concern would be about overplaying Alexis Sanchez, who is used to having a winter break and who has been playing nonstop for the Gunners and at a high intensity. Sooner or later he would need a break, and fans would be hoping that he doesn’t break down as he is very important for the team.
After a high intensity game against West Ham, the confidence would be high, but the legs would be very tired for most players, and one can only hope that it doesn’t affect the game today, especially since Southampton would be on the attack from the first whistle.
Laurent Koscielny is another player who is very important for the gunners, and Arsene would certainly hope he stays fit for these back to back games, with most of them being ones that Arsenal need to win at any cost.