Will Perez and Mustafi make debuts as Arsenal prepare for Southampton clash?

Arsenal return to action on Saturday as they welcome Southampton to the Emirates and the only question mark that remains over the squad is whether new signings Lucas Perez and Shkodran Mustafi will start.

Typically, Arsene has favoured the gradual integration of his new players, allowing them time to settle in with the team and adapt to the rigours of a new league.

So, with scarcely more than a week in England, and with just days to settle into a new culture, city, and playing style, it would be expecting perhaps a little too much to ask the new boys to slot straight into the line-up.

But a substitute appearance is not out of the question, in both cases.

Ideally, Arsene would like the outcome of the match put beyond doubt so he can gently release Perez and or Mustafi into the mix in or around the 75th minute.

As we know, though, ‘ideally’ and ‘Arsenal’ are words seldom, if ever, seen in the same sentence, so I’m not holding my breath on that score.

In the case of Perez, the safer money, if there is such a thing, is surely on Olivier Giroud, who played and scored for France in an eye-catching win over Italy during the international break.

The Frenchman’s return from his summer exploits has been carefully handled and I think he will be preferred up front for the Southampton clash, with his back to goal in trademark fashion, and bringing the midfield into the play.

Alexis will probably return to the wing, with a decision to be made over who misses out in midfield; Theo Walcott, or Alex Oxlade Chamberlain. (for the record I think Theo will keep his place, at least for another week).

As for Mustafi, there is probably a greater chance that he will make the starting line-up to take on Southampton, perhaps alongside Laurent Koscielny, but I still feel that Arsene will not risk upsetting the rhythm of a winning team and young Rob Holding has been excellent so far.

I could understand the decision if he were to be removed from the firing line, however, given how raw he is and that he is still, essentially, learning his trade. Almost all players are only ever a single mistake away from shattered confidence.

Even with a new manager and with a few new faces in the squad, Southampton will be a very difficult side to beat and will doubtless look to compress and disrupt the play before springing a counter attack.

Granit Xhaka’s performance against Watford was encouraging, he managed four interceptions, two tackles, and two clearances, so hopefully he will prove as adept and alert at snuffing out any Saints attacks.

The visitors well and truly had our measure last year, I think in particular of the mauling they gave us at St Mary’s, so hopefully we can turn the tables this time around and hit them hard, and hit them fast.

The new signings will certainly give the fans a much-needed boost so here’s hoping it has the same affect on the players and they go out there and give it the beans.

Come on you Gunners!

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