Arsenal v Southampton - Saturday 15:00
Arsenal got their season up and running with a comfortable win away to Watford before the international break. Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez in particular showed their importance, but the victory was achieved against a struggling team they ought to beat and glossed over a glaring weakness in this Arsenal team. In their last 13 matches where they haven’t led at the break, Wenger’s side have only registered two wins. This inability to break down teams bodes ill against a Southampton side that have drawn the first half in nine of their last 16.
Southampton will obviously seek to keep the game tight at the back, especially as they lack a goalscorer at the other end of the pitch. Shane Long and Charlie Austin are struggling for goals whilst Nathan Redmond is really a wide man rather than a striker.
The Saints were reduced to taking shots from distance against Sunderland and such a tactic will suit Petr Cech all day. Imposing new centre-half Shkodran Mustafi should come straight in at the back to improve Arsenal’s rear-guard too, and so the Arsenal clean sheet at 2.3 looks astute.
Wenger also has a new option up front in the speedy Lucas Perez, but it seems unlikely he will play from the start. The striker can play out wide and do a similar job to Theo Walcott, but Wenger has said that he envisions Perez playing centrally. However, as an option from the bench this may help with Arsenal’s second half troubles as his pace will force teams to sit deeper than they will against Olivier Giroud, creating pockets of space for the likes of Sanchez and Ozil to exploit.
As a result, we’re going to take a punt on the Gunners going slightly better than the 0-0 in this fixture last season and take Draw/Arsenal on the HT/FT.