Predicted Arsenal XI to play Southampton: Injury boosts for Gunners

Arsenal Emirates

Match to be played on Saturday 23rd November 2013 at 15:00. Venue: Emirates Stadium, London.

Often one of the most injury-ravaged squads in the modern Premier League era, Arsene Wenger's first-team could be considerably bolstered, rather than depleted, as Jack Wilshere may well be fit enough for the squad but it could be too soon for him to start as he recovers from an ankle problem.

Two erstwhile injured stars, Aaron Ramsey (hamstring) and Theo Walcott (abdominal strain), could be in the starting line-up, though, with both The Mirror and ESPN reporting positive news for the influential pair. Lukas Podolski, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Abou Diaby remain sidelined, however, with no return date yet established.

In Arsenal's Saturday lunch-time hosting of the season's surprise package Southampton, Wenger may well go strong, as the Gunners will look to bounce-back following a 1-0 loss to Manchester United at Old Trafford before the international break.

Here's the side Wenger may go with…

GK – Wojtech Szczesny

The Pole is in prime position to retain his place between the sticks and will be keen to emulate his best goal-denying saves from the season (his palming deflection of Mile Jedinak's 25-yard volley remains one of this campaigns best) following his signing of a new long-term deal just last week.

RB – Bacary Sagna

Frenchman Sagna is like the Javier Zanetti of British football. He rarely has a bad game, regularly produces a 7/10 performance and is certainly one of Wenger's most consistent performers.

CB – Laurent Koscielny

His partnership with Mertesacker is emerging as the finest in British football. He is one of the most proficient passers in the league, a fine tackler, a prolific clearer and his positioning is oft adept. It is that positional awareness that will be tested versus the Saints, as Mauricio Pochettin has a triumvirate of Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez linking-up well and moving even better.

CB – Per Mertesacker

His headed goal was the sole difference when his native Germany slayed the English at Wembley Stadium earlier this week. His absence was Per(haps) noticeable during Arsenal's loss to Manchester United. If he were on the pitch, would the result have been different?

LB – Kieran Gibbs

Gibbs averages well over two tackles completed per game, two interceptions a match, three clearances every game, completes 82% of his passes and is a threat from wide-play.

CM – Mikel Arteta

While midfield hound-dog Mathieu Flamini will miss the Southampton match due to suspension, Mikel Arteta poses a competent stand-in. The Spaniard must ensure the opposition see little of the ball and, when Saints lose possession, they usually show a good work-rate in trying to get it back.

CM – Aaron Ramsey

What is there to say about Ramsey other than he is fast-turning into the most significant and best box-to-box midfielder in the country? In Premier League football, he has been responsible for ten goals (six goals and four assists), has created 13 chances, wins an incredible 4 tackles in every game on average, attempts around 80 passes every 90 minutes and has a top engine.

LM – Santi Cazorla

If Arsenal are to gain success in their attacking periods, they will need to pin the Saints back in their own third. For this to have any kind of effect, it is imperative that the four attackers combine well. Cazorla needs to be on form with both his shooting and chance creating, otherwise he may end up being replaced by Wilshere later on in the game.

RM – Theo Walcott

While Cazorla and Mesut Ozil are both regarded to be the assist-providers or key-pass makers, Walcott provides an alternative attacking-threat; pace. His selection would be able to stretch a stringent Saints defence while also keeping their rearguard back.

AM – Mesut Ozil

A lot is said about Ozil's magic this season but it is largely only Wenger who praises what Ozil does without the ball and his defensive capability. Against Southampton, all facets of his game could shine.

CF – Olivier Giroud

Giroud hasn't scored in the Premier League in almost a month… is he due one? Because of shoddy alternatives while Podolski is injured, Giroud is probably the first-name on the team-sheet. This weekend will be no different.

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