Preview by Numbers: Arsenal v. Southampton, Capital One Cup Third Round

Emirates Stadium, London
Tuesday, September 23
2:45 pm. EDT, 19:45 BST
  • Match Officials
    • Referee: Keith Stroud
    • Assistants: Nigel Lugg and Alan Young
    • 4th Official: Keith Hill
  • All-Time in All Competitions: 44 Arsenal wins, 16 Southampton wins, 24 draws
  • All-Time in the League Cup: 4 Arsenal wins, 2 draws
  • Last Year in the League Cup
    • Arsenal: Lost Fourth Round to Chelsea
    • Southampton: Lost Fourth Round to Sunderland
  • Arsenal's League Form: W // W-D-D-D-W
  • Southampton's League Form: D // L-D-W-W-W
  • Weather: Partly Cloudy, 16 C / 62 F
The League Cup has provided a lot of upsets in the past.
Arsenal have been on the wrong end of a few of those in
recent memory, so let's all remember to laugh at United now.
Ah, the League Cup...

Astute readers (read: probably nobody) will recall that I started my third round League Cup preview with that exact line last year.

Now that Arsenal have broken the trophy drought with last year's FA Cup victory, Arsene Wenger will likely return to using the League Cup as a surefire chance at rotating the squad, this week especially, as the North London derby lurks around the corner. Arsenal have a lot of depth up front that needs to be rotated, as I'll discuss a bit below. The bigger concern is, of course, on the back line, as Arsenal will have to use youngsters to give their starters a rest.

Southampton, on the other hand, come into this game on a four match winning streak across all competitions; they have no reason to take this match lightly, so it could be a tight encounter at the Emirates tonight.

Arsenal Squad News

Out: Monreal (back,) Debuchy (ankle,) Sanogo (hamstring,) Giroud (ankle,) Gnabry (knee,) Walcott (knee)

Semi Ajayi trained with the first team yesterday and could
be handed a start, if Wenger is cautious with his back line.
The news continues to get worse at the back. Mathieu Debuchy did indeed need surgery on his ankle injury and is expected to miss three months. Nacho Monreal also remains out with a back injury and he is not expected to be available again until after the October international break. This leaves Arsenal with exactly four fit first-team defenders: Kieran Gibbs, Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny, and Calum Chambers.

Without any cover at the position, it's scary to imagine any of them being risked in a League Cup tie. Arsenal will field a very youthful back four that is basically guaranteed to feature Hector Bellerin, Isaac Hayden, and Semi Ajayi. None of those three players are left backs, however, which begs the serious question of who the fourth defender will be. Perhaps Arsene Wenger will play Francis Coquelin at fullback; he's done it before.

In the attack, I would expect a start from a few of the players who have been hurting for playing time this year: Tomas Rosicky, Lukas Podolski, and Joel Campbell, specifically. It's likely we'll even see Abou Diaby!

Aside from the two Frenchmen that are out long term, Arsenal's other injured players are, like Nacho, expected to return to full training after the October break; that list includes Yaya Sanogo (hamstring,) Serge Gnabry (knee,) and Theo Walcott (knee.)

Predicted XI: Ospina, Bellerin, Hayden, Ajayi, Coquelin, Flamini, Diaby, Rosicky, Podolski, Campbell, Akpom.

Southampton Squad News

Out: Ward-Prowse (ankle,) Yoshida (ankle,) Alderweireld (hamstring,) Isgrove (knee,) Gallagher (knee,) Rodriguez (knee)

Jay Rodriguez has been out since April after injuring his knee.
Southampton will be without James Ward-Prowse and Maya Yoshida, both of whom were subbed out of their match at the weekend with ankle injuries. Toby Alderweireld is back in training after a hamstring strain, but is not likely to feature in this match. Long-term knee injuries continue to keep Sam Gallagher and Jay Rodriguez out of the lineup.

The Saints are expected to hand a first start to Sadio ManĂ©, signed on deadline day from Red Bull Salzburg; the Senagalese midfielder's work permit was just sorted out last week and he joined the club for training on Friday.

Judging by the lineup Southampton fielded at Millwall in the second round, I would expect a strong XI; Arsenal's makeshift back four will have to be wary. 

Current Form

Southampton left it late to beat 10-man Swansea at the
Through their European qualifier matches and the Community Shield, Arsenal have played nine matches already this season to Southampton's six. Both clubs have lost only one of their games; while Arsenal had their unbeaten run to start the season snapped in Dortmund last week, the Saints have not tasted defeat since their opening weekend loss at Anfield.

Arsenal recovered nicely from their 2-0 humbling in Germany with Saturday's 3-0 win over Aston Villa. They'll be happy to return home for a string of big matches (they have the North London derby at the weekend and Galatasaray at home in Europe next week;) Arsenal have not lost at the Emirates since Bayern Munich's win in February.

After losing to Liverpool on the opening Sunday, Southampton further dropped points at home a week later to West Bromwich Albion. They've rattled off four straight wins across all competitions since then, beating Millwall in the second round of this competition, then defeating West Ham, Newcastle, and Swansea in the league. With three wins, a draw, and a +6 goal difference, the Saints sit second in the table.

Form, however, does go out the window a little bit when talking about the League Cup considering the expected amount of rotation in the sides.

Match Facts

Arsenal took four of a possible six points from Southampton last year. At the Emirates in November, Arsenal took a 1-0 lead when Olivier Giroud pounced on a ball control error from Saints goalkeeper Artur Boruc. Giroud later added a second from the penalty spot to give Arsenal a 2-0 win. At St. Mary's in late January, Arsenal trailed 1-0 at halftime before scoring twice in four minutes to take a 2-1 lead. Their lead, however, lasted all of two minutes, as Adam Lallana equalized. Those two dropped points proved to be the beginning of the end for Arsenal's run at the top of the table; the Gunners went on to win just three of their next 10 league games before closing out the year winning their final five.

Arsenal have met Southampton four times in the League Cup and have won all four ties. The sides met in the 1969 second round in Southampton, ending in a 1-1 draw; Arsenal won the replay at home 2-0 after extra time. The sides met in the third round in 1977 and in 1979, with Arsenal winning both at home. In the 1985 fourth round, the sides met at Highbury; it ended 0-0. Arsenal, as they did in 1969, won the replay, this by a 3-1 scoreline in Southampton.

All of Southampton's wins over Arsenal have come in league play; in addition to Arsenal's four of four record against the Saints in League Cup ties, the Gunners also have three wins from three FA Cup ties.

The Referee

The referee is Hampshire-based Keith Stroud. Stroud has been a Select Group referee before, starting in 2007/08 before eventually being demoted in the summer of 2009. Stroud has worked only one Arsenal match in his career, a 1-0 win for the Gunners at Sunderland on the final day of the season in May of 2008. Theo Walcott had Arsenal's goal, while Stroud denied Sunderland a penalty, as Michael Chopra tangled with Alex Song in the box.

You don't have to go back quite as far to find the only time Stroud worked a Southampton match; it was in May of 2009, when the Saints lost 3-1 at Nottingham Forest. The Saints led 1-0 through Bradley Wright-Phillips before Forest scored three in the last quarter of an hour. That match was Stroud's final game before demotion from the Select Group. It was also Southampton's last game in the Championship, as the Saints were relegated to League One.

Stroud has been working some of the bigger matches in the Championship over the past few seasons and earlier this year worked the East Anglian derby between Norwich City and Ipswich Town. At 45 years old, this is likely Stroud's last shot at regaining promotion to the top group of match officials.

Around the Third Round
  • Tuesday: Cardiff City v. Bournemouth; Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff
  • Tuesday: Derby County v. Reading; iPro Stadium, Derby
  • Tuesday: Fulham v. Doncaster Rovers; Craven Cottage, London
  • Tuesday: Leyton Orient v. Sheffield United; Matchroom Stadium, London
  • Tuesday: Liverpool v. Middlesbrough; Anfield, Liverpool
  • Tuesday: Milton Keynes Dons v. Bradford City; Stadium:MK, Milton Keynes
  • Tuesday: Shrewsbury Town v. Norwich City; Greenhous Meadow, Shrewsbury
  • Tuesday: Sunderland v. Stoke City; Stadium of Light, Sunderland
  • Tuesday: Swansea City v. Everton; Liberty Stadium, Swansea
  • Wednesday: Burton Albion v. Brighton and Hove Albion; Pirelli Stadium, Burton-on-Trent
  • Wednesday: Chelsea v. Bolton Wanderers; Stamford Bridge, London
  • Wednesday: Crystal Palace v. Newcastle United; Selhurst Park, London
  • Wednesday: Manchester City v. Sheffield Wednesday; Etihad Stadium, Manchester
  • Wednesday: Tottenham Hotspur v. Nottingham Forest; White Hart Lane, London
  • Wednesday: West Bromwich Albion v. Hull City; The Hawthorns, West Bromwich