Emiliano Martinez will replace the injured Bernd Leno while Mesut Ozil should return when Arsenal lock horns with Southampton at St. Mary’s on Thursday.
Arsenal will be looking to bounce back to winning ways after two successive defeats when they take on Southampton at St. Mary’s on Thursday evening. And, Mikel Arteta has a number of roster issues to contend with ahead of his side’s latest fixture.
David Luiz, who signed a one-year extension with Arsenal on Wednesday, serves the second of his two-match ban. Apart from Luiz, Arteta will also be without Pablo Mari and former Southampton defender Cedric Soares, both of whom are set to join the Gunners permanently this summer, while the likes of Calum Chambers, Lucas Torreira and Gabriel Martinelli miss out as well.
Welcome back, Granit 👊
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) June 24, 2020
The big blow for Arsenal, though, has come in the form of Bernd Leno’s absence. The German goalkeeper sustained a horrific knee injury last weekend against Brighton & Hove Albion. During his pre-match press conference, Arteta provided an update on Leno, confirming that he will not be out for as long as the club initially feared.
“Well we thought it was going to be a more significant injury, we don’t know the extent of the injury still but at least we know the cruciate ligaments are not damaged. That was the biggest fear at the start. He was more positive and in less pain today so that’s good news.”
In place of the injured Leno, Emiliano Martinez will get a rare opportunity to start a number of games, including against Southampton. Arteta remarked on the chance Martinez has, saying, “He’s been very patient for a lot of years, waiting for this opportunity. Now it’s in his hands. He needs to enjoy it.”
Martinez will be protected by a back four of Hector Bellerin, Shkodran Mustafi, Rob Holding and Kieran Tierney, with Tierney being the only change in the Arsenal defence. In midfield, the bone of contention is the availability of Granit Xhaka.
The Swiss midfielder was taken off early in the defeat to Manchester City last week but has rejoined full training ahead of the game. However, he is unlikely to be fit enough to start, meaning Matteo Guendouzi and Dani Ceballos will pair up in the midfield double pivot against Southampton.
Meanwhile, Arteta should change the shape of his side, reverting to the 4-2-3-1, with Bukayo Saka and Nicolas Pepe being the two wide men. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has not quite been at his best in the last two games and could be deployed as a striker. The final spot in the side should see Mesut Ozil returning, with the German playing off Aubameyang.
Arsenal Predicted XI: Martinez; Bellerin, Mustafi, Holding, Tierney; Guendouzi, Ceballos; Pepe, Ozil, Saka; Aubameyang