Arsenal: Alex Oxlade Chainberlain, Abou Diaby, Lukas Podolski & Yaya Sanogo - Out; Theo Walcott - Doubtful
Southampton: Guilherme Do Prado - Out
Arsenal: Mathieu Flamini
Most fans hate the international break as it disrupts the flow of the domestic season, particularly when their team lost and they have to wait a little while longer for their team to redeem themselves. Most supporters of the bigger teams hate the international break as their results normally suffer - if that is the case, can we expect Arsenal fans to be foaming at the mouth come 5pm on Saturday?
No. I have underestimated Arsenal all year long and after my incorrect prediction against Liverpool, I have come to accept Arsenal as one of the main challengers for the title. Despite losing to United, Arsenal were fully deserving of a draw. Mertesacker's illness robbed him of a start against United and Van Persie duly punished Arsenal; it is very likely he would have been in the zone Van Persie occupied and as Tuesday's game against England showed, Mertesacker is tough to beat in the air.
Furthermore, while the first weekend after the international break is normally the best time to steal points off the big teams, Arsenal's players escaped most of it. Having flushed away the bug that was going around during their tie with United, Arsenal will be rearing to go.
Southampton will be no pushovers, they are a vastly different side to the one that was thrashed by Arsenal 6-1 at the beginning of last season. They have acclimatised well to the Premier League and are one of the better sides in it. I have already much noise about the midfield duo of Schneiderlin and Wanyama - they will pivotal in keeping out the Arsenal front line.
But I suspect Southampton's left wing which will most likely be patrolled by Luke Shaw and Jay Rodriguez will be the talking point of the match. While Arsenal are not a team that relies on wing play, they tend to base their attacks on the right before drifting centrally.
Screenshot two shows he has been dribbled 2.5 times per game away from home and he only averages 1.3 tackles per game. This shows he is unable to cover his position effectively and needs the help of Jay Rodriguez to help him out. Should this occur, it takes away from the limited attacking prowess Southampton have (as screenshot three highlights).
Of course there is a reason Southampton have only conceded five goals all season, they are a cohesive unit and if they cannot beat Arsenal, they adapt to their defensive duties. I have mentioned already that Arsenal like to drift inwards, inside the middle lies to duo of Schneiderlin and Wanyama. If in frustration Arsenal do decide to whip in crosses, Lovren (screenshot four) has proved himself mighty in the air winning 50 out of 68 aerial duels (4.5 per game). When they attack from the left, they will most likely find Clyne (screenshot five) much tougher than Shaw to go by. He has averaged 5.7 tackles away from home and is dribbled around a lot less.
Southampton are adept in defending most situations, that has been the key to their season. Unfortunately, unlike Liverpool or Man Utd, Arsenal's attack is greater than the sum of two players and they should find a way through.
Arsenal 1-0 Southampton
*All statistics courtesy of WhoScored