Arsenal face tough test at Saints in a key week
- Credit: PA
Arsenal face the first of three key games in a week as they look to keep their 2019-20 season alive when they travel to Southampton in the Premier League on Thursday (6pm, Sky Sports).
Mikel Arteta’s men have lost their first two games since returning to action after a three-month break due to the coronavirus pandemic, going down 3-0 at Manchester City and to a last-gasp goal in a 2-1 defeat at Brighton.
That left them six points off fifth place and the Spaniard knows they face a major test at St Mary’s Stadium, telling arsenal.com: “They are a very German side. A manager who has the team into pressing mode, they are really aggressive, really good on the counter-press, really good on the transition.
“They know what they’re doing and they all seem very committed to him (Ralph Hasenhuttl). A very dangerous team. I know it’s a really difficult ground to go to.
“They have no fear, they go for it and they really believe in what they do and they compete really, really well. We have to be ready and I’m sure we will be ready.”
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Nicolas Pepe gave the Gunners the lead at the AMEX Stadium on Saturday, after goalkeeper Bernd Leno was stretchered off with a knee injury.
But Brighton hit back to take the points and Arteta added: “I hate losing, but I hate giving games away when they are under control and you deserve to win them.
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“We did more than enough to win that game, but at the end of the day in the Premier League, if you give something to the opponent in some moments, it is going to be difficult to win football games.”
Leno hopes to be able to return to full training in four to six weeks, but Pablo Mari looks set to be out for two to three months with an ankle ligament injury and Lucas Torreira is two to three weeks away from full training after a fractured ankle.
Granit Xhaka is training after spraining an ankle against City and Sokratis is also training after a mild thigh strain, but David Luiz serves the second match of his ban for the red card received at the Etihad.
Gabriel Martinelli injured his knee in training on Sunday and will be assessed, while Cedric Soares could be available to make his debut in the FA Cup quarter-final tie at Sheffield United on Sunday (1pm).
Arsenal then play their first home match behind closed doors when Norwich City visit on Wednesday (6pm).
Both of those matches will be shown live on BT Sport.