The expectancy of a Champions League battle against Southampton would have sounded humorous last May. The two clubs are in different tiers in terms of club stature and ability, so why are Southampton currently six points ahead of Arsenal? If the Gunners are to win tonight, a narrow three point gap will be apparent, and with Southampton’s tight Christmas schedule, Ronald Koeman and his men will be struggling. The Dutchman has assembled an eccentric team, and one that works hard and cooperatively. Embarking on their best Premier League start, confidence isn’t the only thing Arsenal should worry about when facing these top dogs.
1. Graziano Pelle
Not the Brazilian lad who notched up a few goals for club an country. No, this time he’s Italian and only recently joined Southampton. His bargain £8million switch to Saint Marys saw him partner up with the former AZ and Feyenoord coach. Obviously sharing a strong, imposing relationship off the field, Koeman is familiar with how to deploy this powerful beast. September’s Player of the Month is bound to cause the Arsenal defence some problems. Innovative with his play, Pelle doesn’t squander his chances, waiting for the perfect moment to take them. Arsenal currently have Laurent Koscielny as a doubt due to inflamed tendinitis, so will he come up against a weak, make-shift partnership. Firing on all cylinders, Pelle has 9 goals in 14 games for Soton, an impressive record for someone who recently joined this difficult division. Embracing life in the Premier League, his powerful traits could cause Arsenal a lot of problems as they seem to find with past 6″4 strikers.