Match Reports

Worry for Arsenal with three set to miss decider clash with Southampton

Arsenal need to respond quickly if they are to reassert themselves at the top of the Premier League table. Having held an eight point gap over Manchester City less than two months ago that can be cut to just one point by this time next week.


It comes after the Gunners fell to a second 2-2 draw in a row, giving up a two-goal lead in both away games against West Ham and Liverpool. Both games were dramatic and had missed penalties but with Manchester City hotting up down the final straight there is no time to look back.

Mikel Arteta’s men have a chance to establish a game between themselves and their nearest challengers once more on Friday when they welcome struggling Southampton to the Emirates Stadium. When the two sides met in October Saints were just the second team to take any points off Arsenal in the opening 11 games.


In the 20 matches since they have been held or beaten in six of them including the last two trips. They will have to do it without William Saliba as well with the Frenchman continuing to be sidelined at this crucial stage of the season.

Almost mockingly, Pep Guardiola has turned his City side towards featuring four centre-backs each as good as the last. Although Rob Holding is a valuable team player, the drop-off to Saliba is alarming and has seen Gabriel struggle more too.

The impressive defender hasn’t played since the defeat to Sporting CP in March but Arteta has previously said he is optimistic he will feature before the end of the season. “William is still not available,” he said before last week. “He’s progressing well and we’re hopeful that we’ll have him available in the next few weeks. We’ll have to see.”


Friday is still likely to come too soon for him whereas Oleksandr Zinchenko was also forced to watch on from the sidelines at the London Stadium. “He had a muscular issue at the end of the match at Anfield last week and he struggled in the last few minutes,” Arteta said of his integral Ukrainian.

“We assessed him and he wasn’t fit enough to play, and that’s why we have good players like Kieran to replace him.” Zinchenko was missed as much for his ability to play into the midfield as his attacking threat against West Ham.


There was a boost in that game though as Eddie Nketiah returned, coming from the bench in the final minute. “Yes [he is ready to play],” Arteta said before the game. “Eddie is back. He’s fully fit now and he’s back.”

Elsewhere Mohamed Elneny and Takehiro Tomiyasu are the only long-term abscentees.

Football Auditor

Hey i'm Emmanuel, in love with football, what's more fun than discussing football will you guys.

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