The XI: Arsenal vs Southampton – Diaby returns while Campbell and Akpom start
Bellerin – Hayden – Chambers – Coquelin
Flamini – Diaby
Campbell– Rosicky– Podolski
You would be robbing every Gooner of their wish if David Ospina was to be excluded from this match. We should finally see what the Colombian is made of in Arsenal colours after witnessing his exploits at the World Cup. The back four will require a make-shift look unless Arsene Wenger does not mind risking a few more injuries.
That means Francis Coquelin – who was a solid utility player during the 2011/12 campaign – should deputize for the injury-prone Kierran Gibbs (another man who can’t be risked) at left-back. Hector Bellerin was the closest thing to any positive from that shambolic night in Dortmund and after coping well at right back during the Emirates cup, he should continue there tomorrow. At the heart of defence should be Isaac Hayden and Calum Chambers. And if the fitness of Chambers is any concern, then former Charlton boy Semi Ajayi – another 19-year-old centre-back – may be included in the conversation after being named in the 18-man squad.
In midfield, this should be the return of Abou Diaby if we are lucky as he partners up with Mathieu Flamini who may need games of this sort to rediscover his form as a reliable defensive midfielder. Joel Campbell and Lukas Podolski, two men who may have been harshly ignored by Arsene Wenger so far this season, should finally get a start, running the flanks.
Tomas Rosicky still possesses the goods as a play-maker and that should be his job on Tuesday night. And with six goals in only four games for the club’s youth side, Chuba Akpom – lauded by Wenger as “a very good finisher” – should be deployed upfront with Yaya Sanogo injured and Danny Welbeck all there is.
With that being said, Southampton are probably the last side Arsenal would like to face in any competition at the moment considering their blistering start to the season. No warning needed.