Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is set to miss out against Southampton, while Emile Smith Rowe will return for Arsenal on Saturday.
Mikel Arteta could ring in the changes to his starting lineup when Arsenal and Southampton face off at the Emirates on Saturday. Arsenal will aim to bounce back from consecutive defeats in the Premier League to steady their chase for a top four spot.
Questions have been asked regarding the form of several Arsenal stars in the aftermath of their loss to Everton. Similar doubts were raised over Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang previously, as Arteta promptly dropped the misfiring striker to the bench in the last game. The Arsenal boss could take a similar call against Southampton.
Since Monday, the biggest talking point has been the form of midfielder Thomas Partey, who seems to have petered off in the last few weeks. Arteta could opt to drop the Ghanaian against the Saints. Alternatively, the manager could continue playing Partey and change things around him.
That would mean Arteta could choose to bench Granit Xhaka, who produced an average performance upon his surprise return from injury on Monday. From the looks of it, the Arsenal manager could give the nod to a partnership between Xhaka and Albert Sambi Lokonga in central midfield, allowing Partey a breather.
Emile Smith Rowe, who missed the previous game, has returned to full training this week. Coincidentally, Gabriel Martinelli sustained a hamstring problem this week, and despite being passed fit Arteta might not choose to start him against Southampton. However, Smith Rowe could come in on the left side of the attack.
At his pre-match press conference, Arteta confirmed Smith Rowe’s participation in team training. He said, “Emile has trained today and he was feeling much better after losing him for the last game and hopefully he will be available to play. The rest [of the squad] is okay.”
The Arsenal backline will remain unchanged. Aaron Ramsdale will play in goal, while Gabriel Magalhaes and Ben White will continue as centre-backs, with Takehiro Tomiyasu and Kieran Tierney retaining their roles as the full-backs.
With the midfield combination of Xhaka and Lonkonga likely to get the nod, Martin Odegaard will play in the advanced role behind the central striker. Bukayo Saka will retain his place on the right side of the Arsenal attack, with Smith Rowe returning to replace Martinelli on the left flank.
Late reporters have emerged about Aubameyang missing the latest training sessions, which points towards the striker’s absence from the Southampton clash. Alexandre Lacazette should continue in the squad and lead the line for Arsenal.
Predicted Arsenal XI: Ramsdale; Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tierney; Lokonga, Xhaka; Saka, Odegaard, Smith Rowe; Lacazette