Gillespie Guest Post: The Southampton PerspectivePosted: December 31, 2012
It feels like an age since I was stood at the emirates watching my beloved Southampton defending like a pub team, and being destroyed by a rampant Arsenal. A lot has changed since then and things are slightly more positive for us now than they were back then.
The main difference in our positive results and performances over recent months is our stability at the back. This is mainly down to the fact that Jack Cork is back playing after a long injury lay off and has provided the back four with much needed protection. We’ve also been playing the wonderfully talented 17 year old Luke Shaw at left back, a huge problem area for us at the start of the season. His defensive ability is very impressive and he’s dealt with some of the best wingers around quite comfortably. Going forward Shaw is very confident; he’s a good crosser of the ball and will occasionally go on these Bale type dribbles running at defenders. I’m not surprised to hear that Arsenal are interested in Shaw and even less surprised that Wenger is once again stalking our youngsters, but to be honest there is absolutely no chance of him leaving. Now that we are in the premiership we won’t be selling our young talent unless silly money is offered (I’m talking £15-20 million region for Shaw).
Our biggest issue this season is between the sticks. We have used 3 keepers this season, none of whom have filled me with any sort of confidence. Kelvin Davis started against Stoke, but was dodgy and I really don’t have a clue who’s going to get picked on Tuesday. I’d personally go with Arthur Boruc, he’s played in the Champions League and has a load of international caps. It looks as though he’s lost the gut he possessed when we first signed him and I think the Club have forgiven him for the incident on his home debut in which he swore and threw a bottle at home fans, as you do.
It’s difficult to predict what our starting team is going to be, the Club is always very secretive about injuries. Our captain Adam Lallana is injured, which is a massive blow but we have taken points in our last two games without him. Nathaniel Clyne was injured for the stoke game but hopefully he’ll be back.
Having watched both Saints and Arsenals games yesterday, I don’t think it’ll be the same score line as the game earlier in the season. Arsenal certainly look shaky at the back, something I’m hoping we can exploit. Demba Ba’s hold up play on Saturday was excellent and Arsenal didn’t deal with him at all well. I’m hoping Rickie Lambert can cause the same sort of problems on Tuesday. The other, more scary, aspect of Arsenals display was how dangerous and potent the front four look going forward. This is obviously due to Theo finally playing in the position that every Saints fan has been saying he should for years. It’s strange it’s taken the management at Arsenal so long to play Theo in his rightful position. Not only has Theo’s game improved, but I feel his pace and movement is giving Santi Cazorla more space and freedom to play further up the pitch. If he finds space between our midfield and defence on Tuesday its going to be long afternoon me thinks.
If they do start, it’s going to be a little bit frustrating watching the ex Saints boys Ox and Theo playing up top, I think a lot of fans will be watching thinking ‘what if?’. Ex players always score against us as well, so hopefully Wenger gives them a rest.
I think it’s going to be an entertaining game; my prediction for the result depends heavily on team selection. I think if Wenger puts out the strongest team available to him it’s going to be hard for us and will be 2-1 to the Arsenal, but if he fields a slightly weaker team and we can replicate our first half performance at Stoke I think a cheeky 2-1 home win could be on the cards.