The EFL Cup returns to action this mid-week, with the Gunners hosting Southampton at the Emirates stadium on Wednesday evening in the fifth round of the competition

The Gunners will go into the match on the back of an impressive unbeaten run stretching back since August, while the visitors have had a rather contrasting run of results lately, having won only thrice in their last nine games in all competitions.

Nonetheless, the Saints have proven to be a tough side to breakdown under Claude Puel, outlined by the stalemates against Manchester City and Liverpool. Arsenal will have to be at their very best if Arsene Wenger’s men are to emerge victorious.

A place in the two legged semi-final of the EFL Cup will be on the line when these two Premier League teams meet on Wednesday.

Team news and tactics

Arsenal

Arsene Wenger has a long list of casualties ahead of the game with Santi Cazorla, Mathieu Debuchy, Olivier Giroud, Hector Bellerin, Chuba Akpom, Danny Welbeck and Per Mertesacker all ruled out of the tie.

Emiliano Martinez has been trusted to be the guardian by Arsene Wenger thus far in the EFL Cup, and it seems likely that the Argentine glovesman will start against Southamtpon, with David Ospina deputizing on the bench.

Carl Jenkinson will replace Mathieu Debuchy after the Frenchman picked up a hamstring injury on Sunday, which rules him out for a few weeks. Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi will be afforded rest, with Gabriel and summer-signing Rob Holding starting at the heart of the defence. Kieran Gibbs will complete the back-line as the left-back.

Aaron Ramsey has had a stop-start campaign thus far due to his recurring injury problems, but has been ruled fit to play on Wednesday. The Welshman will play a key role, driving the team’s play forward from central midfield. He will be ably supported by Mohamed Elneny, who will stay deep and break-up the opposition attacks.

Arsenal's Welsh midfielder Aaron Ramsey (L) challenges Paris Saint-Germain's Brazilian defender Marquinhos (R) during the UEFA Champions League group A football match between Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain at the Emirates Stadium in London on November 23, 2016. / AFP / IKIMAGES / Ian KINGTON (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images)

Arsenal’s Welsh midfielder Aaron Ramsey (L) challenges Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian defender Marquinhos (R) during the UEFA Champions League group A football match between Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain at the Emirates Stadium in London on November 23, 2016. / AFP / IKIMAGES / Ian KINGTON (Photo courtesy –  IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images)

Lucas Perez has recovered from his ankle injury ahead of schedule, and is expected to lead the line for the Gunners against the Saints. The young trio of Oxlade-Chamberlain, Alex Iwobi and Reine-Adelaide will have the task of providing width and service to the striker, with the likes Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez set to be rested for the game.

Probable lineup (4-2-3-1): Martinez, Jenkinson, Gabriel, Holding, Gibbs; Elneny, Ramsey; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Iwobi, Reine-Adelaide; Lucas.
football formations

Southampton

Alex McCarthy started between the sticks for Southampton’s previous two EFL Cup ties, but is a doubt for the upcoming match. Fraser Forster will replace the injured glovesman.

Yoshida and McQueen are expected to be the full-backs, with Jose Fonte and Van Dijk as the centre-half duos. Van Dijk has been in fine form this season, and will be the key if Southampton are to progress into the next round.

Southampton's Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk controls the ball during the English Premier League football match between Southampton and Everton at St Mary's Stadium in Southampton, southern England on November 27, 2016. / AFP / Glyn KIRK / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo credit should read GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

Southampton’s Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk controls the ball during the English Premier League football match between Southampton and Everton at St Mary’s Stadium in Southampton, southern England on November 27, 2016. (Photo courtesy – GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

The midfield will consist of a diamond with Romeu as the deepest midfielder and Sofiane Boufal playing at the tip of the diamond. The poise, guile and tenacity of Ward-Prowse and Hojbjerg will be utilized centrally. Dusan Tadic continues to be sidelined with an injury.

James Rodriguez and Shane Long have recovered from their respective injuries, with the former being an unused sub at the weekend while the latter coming off the bench in the 89th min. It still remains to be seen whether either of the duo will be fit enough to start on Wednesday, but Charlie Austin looks a certainty to spearhead the attack.

Probable lineup (4-4-2 diamond): Forster; Yoshida, Fonte, Van Dijk, McQueen; Romeu, Ward-Prowse, Hojbjerg, Boufal; Rodriguez, Austin
football formations

Key stats

  • Arsenal are on a 19-match unbeaten run (13W, 6D), having not lost since their opening day defeat to Liverpool at home in mid-August.
  • The Saints have won only once on road in this campaign in nine attempts in all competitions, failing to find the back of the net in five of those matches.
  • Arsenal have won only twice in the last six fixtures between the clubs, with Southampton winning 2-1 at the Emirates stadium the last time these two teams met in the competition, back in Sept 2014.
  • Arsenal have converted all their six shots on target into a goal in the last four matches.

Prediction

Arsenal 1 Southampton 0

Arsene Wenger will shuffle his pack, giving opportunities to the fringe players on Wednesday, while Southampton are expected to play close to their best possible XI, knowing a win would take them to the semi-final of the EFL Cup.

Southampton have emerged as one of the most organized teams of the Premier League under Claude Puel, and as such, the home side are sure to have a difficult evening against the Saints.

Arsenal have the upper-hand as they could bring on game-changing options from the bench, but the game looks likely to be decided on very fine margins.

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