Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger says he emerged from defeat to Manchester United last time out with the confidence that his side can maintain their charge at the top of the Premier League table. Wenger leads his team into Saturday’s meeting with Southampton looking to bounce back from their first league loss since the opening day of the campaign, and he believes his team has the quality to continue to mix it with the best, but just need extra belief.
“What I learnt from my team was that we have the potential to play at the top level,” he said, according to Arsenal’s official website. “In the first half, we played with the handbrake, that means we still want to strengthen that belief.
“[The fact] we could restrict them to very few chances away from home, that will hopefully teach us a lesson that in the next big games [that we must] play on full cylinders from the start.
“Before every game you have to accept you can win, lose or draw. But I know we have enough quality to decide games in our favor, so let's focus on putting in a top-level performance and then you have a very good chance to win.”
Arsenal will be helped in their task of beating high-flying Southampton by Theo Walcott having returned to fitness and set to start on the bench. Thomas Rosicky is a doubt after suffering from illness, while Jack Wilshere should be fit, despite concern over an ongoing ankle problem. Mathieu Flamini misses out through suspension.
Southampton could actually go above Arsenal with a victory by two goals at the Emirates Stadium. Alongside Arsenal, Mauricio Pochettino’s side have been the surprise package of the season to date. Pochettino has rightly been lauded for the intense high-pressing philosophy he has quickly implemented, while his players have also been earning plaudits. Indeed, Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez joined striker Rickie Lambert in receiving international recognition for England in recent friendlies.
“I think that the most gratifying aspect is that we’re really happy with the work that we’ve been doing with the squad,” he said, according to Southampton’s official website. “We’ve been progressing as a team, from strength to strength.
“How our players are attracting more international plaudits and more international recognition makes us very happy.
“We work in order to make these players -- individually and as a collective -- play as best as they can.”
Pochettino’s only new fitness worry is Jack Cork, who is ruled out with an ankle injury. Gaston Ramirez only returned from international duty on Friday and will have his fitness assessed ahead of the match.
D: Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs
M: Ramsey, Arteta
Rosicky, Ozil, Cazorla
D: Clyne, Lovren, Fonte, Shaw
M: Wanyama, Schneiderlin
Ward-Prowse, Lallana, Rodriguez
Where to watch: The Premier League match will kick off at 10 a.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by the NBC Sports Network, with a live stream available on NBC Sports Live Extra.