Now that the international break has concluded, the Premier League is back and Claude Puel’s Southampton are set to visit Arsène Wenger’s Arsenal.
Last time out, the Saints drew 1-1 with Sunderland at St. Mary’s after Jay Rodriguez found the back of the net minutes after Jermain Defoe netted from the spot. Southampton are still winless through its first three games of the season.
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SOUTHAMPTON, UNITED KINGDOM – AUGUST 27: Jay Rodriguez of Southampton scores his sides first goal during the Premier League match between Southampton and Sunderland at St Mary’s Stadium on August 27, 2016 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)
Arsenal defeated Watford 3-1 away in their last match to earn their first win of the season. Wenger’s men looked strong in the first half, having scored their three goals before half time.
Arsenal brought in two new men, defender Shkodran Mustafi from Valencia and striker Lucas Pérez from Deportivo La Coruña, as the summer transfer window ran out. With these new signings possibly adding confidence to the team which is coming off a victory, this match will not be an easy one for the Saints. The key match up this week will be Mesut Özil v. Oriol Romeu.
Özil is an extremely creative and skilled attacking midfielder who, on his day, can unlock any defense with his range of passes. Since he will likely be a focal point in Arsenal’s attack, Romeu will need to help out the Saints’ back line in keeping Özil in check.
WATFORD, ENGLAND – AUGUST 27: Mesut Ozil of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Watford and Arsenal at Vicarage Road on August 27, 2016 in Watford, England. (Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
Romeu is an extremely strong defensive midfielder who can break up play. Romeu will need to be on his game in order to limit Özil’s opportunities and ultimately secure the Southampton net, as he always plays to do. If he can say strong, and Nathan Redmond or Shane Long can score on some sort of counter attack, Southampton may return home with at least one point.
Saints boss Puel is keen to face fellow frenchman Wenger this weekend. During Puel’s playing career, Wenger was his manager for a few seasons at AS Monaco.
“It’s the first time we can compete against each other and it’s a pleasure of course because he was a very important person for me and he’s a great manager… It would be great to get the win because I have a lot of respect for him,” Puel said.