Saturday, 23 November 2013

Here's why the Walcott/Ozil relationship is key to Arsenal beating Southampton

Morning Gooners.

It back to the Grove for a Saturday 3pm kick off, my favourite type of fixture of them all, following the international break where hardly any of our players were involved in any meaningful matches.

That's good news for us. There will be fresh legs and big confidence throughout the squad as we prepare to take on a Southampton team who are much changed from the one which we beat 6-1 last season.

Arsene Wenger said he is well aware of the oppositions strengths and is keen for his team to ensure there is no lapses in concentration against a team who will be hard to break down. The fact that their defensive record is the second best in Europe's top five league is testament to that.

With Theo Walcott fit and available - arguably he should have been involved at some point at Old Trafford - I would expect him to take a place in the starting line up. I'd expect the reason why he was left out of our visit to the north west was due in part by a possible call up for the England squad. But with two weeks of hard work under his belt at the training ground, Wenger should unleash Walcott against his former club.

I think he could be key in us breaking down this stubborn Southampton side. I expect this to be a tricky match and with not many goals, although it would be nice to see us get a few on the scoresheet.

Before Walcott's injury, we'd come to find our rhythm with him and Mesut Ozil finding each other's wavelength. Against Sunderland and Marseille, the pair combined very well  At the Stadium of Light, Walcott should have had a hattrick but instead he drew a black on the scoresheet. However the most influential thing Ozil did was set up the opening goal for Giroud.

But the foundations of relationship was there for all to see.Ozil found Walcott eight times. Two of those passes resulted in Walcott's next action to be a shot on goal. Against Marseille the German found the Englishman five times, one of which resulted in a shot on target.

They've had this past week to work together on the training pitch after Ozil was released by the Germany camp to return to London Colney after his involvement in the Italy game. I hope that what we see this afternoon are the fruits of their work.

For me, the team picks itself. I'd expect the manager to go with: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Arteta, Ramsey, Walcott, Ozil, Cazorla, Giroud.

We should have a bench of: Fabianski, Monreal, Vermaelen, Rosicky, Wilshere, Gnabry, Bendtner.

This game is first against third. It's going to be tough, but I think we all know that this Arsenal team is capable of beating anyone.


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