Arsenal - Southampton Preview: Walcott in race against time to face former club as Arsenal look to gain back-to-back victories

Arsene Wenger faces an agonising wait over the fitness of a few key players ahead of their clash with Southampton.

Theo Walcott has been ruled out for the clash with a virus, and so Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will play on the flank.

Midfielder Abou Diaby, who was injured on international duty with France, could be a doubt for the match, with his French manager pessimistic about Diaby's chances of playing, describing him as '50/50' to be fit in time after suffering from a small muscular problem.

Woijciech Szczesny looks set to replace Italian goalkeeper Vito Mannone in goal after recovering from injury, but his compatriot Lukasz Fabianski will miss out with a shoulder injury.

Meanwhile, the visitors will be looking to secure their first Premier League points this season and were perhaps unlucky not to win against the Manchester clubs, losing 3-2 on both occasions.

Club-record signing Gaston Ramirez has finally received the all-clear to join them at St. Marys after an issue with international clearance, but may sit on the bench.


PROBABLE LINEUPS


Arsenal: Sczcesny; Jenkinson, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Gibbs; Diaby, Arteta, Cazorla; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Podolski, Giroud

Southampton: K Davis; Clyne, Hooiveld, Fonte, Fox; Schneiderlin, S Davis, Ward-Prowse; Lallana, Puncheon, Lambert


DID YOU KNOW?

  • Arsenal have scored just two goals in their three Premier League games so far this season, which is the same amount they had scored at this stage last season.
  • Germany international Lukas Podolski (pictured right), who joined this Arsenal this summer from FC Cologne for £10.9 million, won his 100th cap for his country against Denmark at Euro 2012 despite being just 27 years old.
  • The Gunners have drawn their last three home matches in the Premier League. However, they have also kept a clean sheet in all three of their games so far this season.
  • They have finished at least 4th in the Premier League in every season since the 1996/97 campaign, winning the Premier League title three times under Arsene Wenger.
  • The current first-team squad consists of 15 different nationalities (6 players - France, 5 - England, 2 - Spain, Poland, Germany, 1 - Czech Republic, Russia, Finland, Brazil, Ivory Coast, Morocco, Switzerland, Belgium, Italy, Wales)
  • Southampton are yet to pick up a point this season in the Premier League, despite leading two out of their three games this season.
  • Despite being bottom of the Premier League, the Saints have scored twice as many goals as Arsenal have (four).
  • The South Coast club have twice broken their transfer record this summer. They first signed Jay Rodriguez from Burnley for a fee of £7 million, and then secured a deal for Uruguayan playmaker Gaston Ramirez from Bologna for £11.8 million. Their previous record signing was Rory Delap, who cost £5.3 million from Derby in 2001.
  • The statistics show that Southampton have a poor record playing away from home against Arsenal, as they have failed to win in any of their last seven encounters that Arsenal have hosted.
  • And the Championship winners of 2011/12 also need to tighten up at the back, as they have conceded at least two goals in each of their three games this season.


PLAYERS TO WATCH

Arsenal: Olivier Giroud

The former Montpellier striker has had a difficult start to his career at the Emirates Stadium since his high-profile £12 million move earlier this summer. He's already seen fellow summer arrivals Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski open their Arsenal accounts this season, and after some terrible missed chances, pressure will be on the 25-year-old to grab his first Arsenal goal and prove to the fans that there is life after Robin Van Persie.

Southampton: Adam Lallana

After some excellent performances in for the Saints against Manchester United and Manchester City, Lallana was a shock call-up to the England squad last week after Theo Walcott withdrew through injury, and although he didn't come on, it shows that the 24-year-old has vastly improved. With the academy product providing most of the creativity for target man Rickie Lambert, Southampton will be hoping their midfield maestro can cause their London rivals some problems in defence.


PREDICTION: Arsenal 3-0 Southampton

A slow start to the season saw Arsenal fail to score against Stoke and Sunderland in 0-0 stalemates. However, after their win over Liverpool, one would expect Arsenal to win comfortably against the newly-promoted side. With Cazorla pulling the strings in midfield and Giroud hitting his first goal for the club, it could yet be another day of misery for Southampton.




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