Arsenal's defeat against an average Manchester United side was very disappointing, and the (umpteenth) international break prevented any immediate recovery. Still top, they have a great opportunity to regain their momentum, although it won't be easy against Pochettino's impressive Southampton side. Here's what I want to see on Saturday...
1) Ozil and Cazorla working in tandem
This, first and foremost, will help ensure an Arsenal win against a strong Southampton side. Many said Arsene Wenger would have difficulties integrating the duo into the same starting eleven, however they have shown that their respective qualities complement each other perfectly. In the midfield triumvirate behind Olivier Giroud, their awareness and vision will wreak havoc against Southampton, and hopefully keep Morgan Schneiderlin and Vincent Wanyama too preoccupied to provide any attacking impetus for the Saints.
2) Mikel Arteta dictating play from defensive midfield
Mathieu Flamini is suspended after picking up 5 yellow cards (shock horror) so we can expect to see Arteta in the starting line up. The Spaniard put in arguably his best performance in an Arsenal shirt in the impressive 2-0 defeat of Liverpool the other week, reading the game brilliantly and distributing the ball simply yet effectively. His positional awareness and discipline provides the foundation for those ahead of him to express themselves more freely. Evidently, Arteta is vital to a successful team display from the Gunners, and with Southampton’s attacking threat he’ll need to be at his best.
3) Wojciech Szczesny remaining schtum and focusing on his football
The Pole received much criticism earlier in the season for his casual attitude and ostensible lack of focus, compounded by a handful of unconvincing performances. However, in the last month he has kept his head down and got on with his football, all the while remaining out of the limelight – even more impressive in the wake of his new lucrative deal. More of the same, Szcz.
4) We’re the Noooorth Bank
The atmosphere at Ashburton Grove has seen a notable improvement this season, especially since the victory over Napoli. Since then, “We’re the North Bank”/ “We’re the Clock End” chants of the old days have returned, sending the Arsenal faithful into a trance of joyful nostalgia. Finally, it seems the supporters are settling into their new home – or getting there at least.
5) The return of Arsene
In recent years Wenger has cut a weary and frustrated figure on the touchline and in his interviews. This season, however, it seems he has re-found his mojo, with witty responses in press conferences and passionate celebrations on the touchline reminding Arsenal fans he is not finished just yet.
See more from Reuben Lewis @rlewisafc
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