Arsene Wenger will no doubt shuffle his pack when Arsenal take on Southampton tomorrow in the fourth round of the FA Cup at St Mary’s Stadium.
Wenger has traditionally used these type of cup clashes to rotate his squad; giving fringe players, youngsters and those coming back from injury the chance to get game time under their belts.
The Gunners boss will have one eye on the Premier League game – his team sit second in the top flight standings – at home to Watford on Tuesday and players such as Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez are unlikely to feature against Claude Puel’s resurgent outfit.
The Saints go into the game in buoyant mood after a victory against Liverpool at Anfield on Wednesday gave them passage to Wembley for the upcoming EFL Cup final against Manchester United.
Players likely to be part of the action could include the likes of Theo Walcott, who is back in the squad after injury. German World Cup winner Per Mertesacker and France full-back Mathieu Debuchy are back in training after long lay-outs but the game on the south coast could well come too soon for them to feature.
Definitely missing will be Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka, who is suspended after being shown a red card in Arsenal’s 2-1 Premier League win over Burnley at the Emirates Stadium last Sunday.
Wenger said of the upcoming cup clash:
“The squad is quite big, but we are a bit short in midfield at the moment. We’ll put out a team with first-team experience. Maybe there will be one or two younger players, but no more. Overall, it’s the squad that will play. I have not yet completely decided who will play and who will not play. It’s a first-team squad that will be involved.”