Arsenal: Leno; Cedric, Holding, Luiz, Maitland-Niles; Willock, Elneny, Ceballos; Pepe, Nketiah, Martinelli
Southampton: McCarthy; Valery, Bednarek, Stephens, Bertrand; Walcott, Ward-Prowse, Diallo, Armstrong; Adams, N’Lundulu
Southampton vs Arsenal Score Prediction
It’s hard to avoid the list of absentees facing Hasenhuttl’s side for the weekend. Key players look set to miss out for the hosts, and while Arsenal know as well as anyone that the Saints’ academy produces exceptionally talented players, it will be viewed as a bonus.
With the same fixture coming up just three days later in the Premier League, the Austrian will be less inclined to risk aggravating any of his players’ injuries on Saturday, thus a youthful side could be fielded.
This will obviously play into Arsenal’s hands. What doesn’t, however, is that the second string options at Arteta’s disposal are lagging so far behind the preferred starting side. In midfield the backups are weaker, just as they are up front.
Finding adequate rotation without disrupting the overall flow and mood of the team is an impossible task. Progression to the next round will be partly decided on the incoming fringe players’ desire to make a statement and assume responsibility.
Of course, tactically, Arsenal will have to navigate their way through the Southampton press. This battle will be won where lines are penetrated and pressing is evaded, which in turn then relies on the forwards producing the goods. The attacking players must offer the level of threat that reinstates them into the manager’s thoughts. It’s a big game for Nicolas Pepe, among others.
However, injuries within the Saints’ camp may help swing the tie in Arsenal’s favour, even if it will be tight.