Unai Emery confirmed that Nicolas Pepe is available to be picked on Saturday despite arriving late from international duty as Arsenal face Southampton.
There could be big repercussions from how the match between Arsenal and Southampton pans out for either side. Both the teams are on a winless run in the Premier League and would love for Saturday to be the time to correct that. Unai Emery will be boosted by the availability of almost all of his first-choice stars ahead of the tie.
The defence picks itself for now, especially with Sead Kolasinac and Rob Holding doubtful for the match. Kieran Tierney seems to have slotted in decently at left-back and should continue in the same position, with Hector Bellerin on the other side of the four man backline.
Sokratis is the best performing defender for Arsenal right now and is certain to start, with a wobbly-looking David Luiz to accompany him in central defence. Bernd Leno is a definite starter in goal for Arsenal.
In midfield, Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi should be the pivot pairing, especially after Granit Xhaka’s episode with the fans. Emery discussed the Xhaka situation in his pre-match conference, alluding to the fact that the Swiss will be slowly reintegrated into the starting lineup.
“He is feeling better and also feeling that his team is Arsenal now. He wants to come back with confidence with the supporters, and we are going to decide. But I think little by little we can help him come back and connect with us and our supporters. We are going to decide tomorrow but I want to do that comeback, give him confidence and make him comfortable.”
Up ahead, Dani Ceballos is going to miss out due to injury, meaning Mesut Ozil should be good to start another game after an exile of sorts early in the season.
Nicolas Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will be on either side of him in a 4-2-3-1 setup that is likely to convert into a 4-2-2-2 going forward, with Aubameyang moving a bit central at times to support Alexandre Lacazette, who will continue to lead the attack for Arsenal.
Predicted Arsenal XI: Leno, Bellerin, Sokratis, David Luiz, Tierney, Torreira, Guendouzi, Pepe, Ozil, Aubameyang, Lacazette