Arsenal vs. Southampton Preview: Three Storylines to Watch

Chaz Bing@chazbingccmContributor IIISeptember 14, 2012

Oliver Giroud’s Lack of Production

Arsene Wenger is known to be a patient man, but just how long can he manage to stick with Olivier Giroud without causing a backlash from the fans?

Before the season, Giroud was touted to be one of Arsenal’s most impressive new signings. He is a French newcomer whose ability to finish around the goal would surely help Arsenal fill the expansive void left by the departure of Robin van Persie.

Unfortunately, Giroud has been anything but impressive, squandering embarrassingly easy opportunities and appearing somewhat nervous around the goal.

Wenger will surely stick with Giroud for a few more games, especially if Arsenal keeps winning, but if Giroud starts being subbed in during the second half, it could signal an important shift in the Gunner’s strategy—and Giroud may be on his way to the bench.

Theo Walcott’s Uncertainty

Giroud’s potential replacement brings us to our second story to watch during tomorrow’s match: Theo Walcott.

For years Arsenal fans have been waiting for Walcott to mature and develop into the elite player that he’s occasionally—albeit in flashes—shown to be. Recent trade rumors swirling around Walcott are only adding fuel to the speculation that he’s unhappy with his lack of playing time.

Whether Walcott will start replacing Giroud is an interesting storyline, but Wenger needs to figure out how to effectively use both players without alienating either one.

Wenger’s use of Giroud and Walcott against Southampton could give us a glimpse into what the future holds for both players.

The Return of Laurent Koscielny

Not all dilemmas are bad, and certainly the one Wenger faces in how to best utilize Laurent Koscielny is a good problem to have. Coming off an injury and appearing healthy enough to dive back into the Premier League action, Koscielny forces Wenger to decide whether or not to disrupt the defense, which has been a point of strength for the team this season.

Over the last few years, Koscielny has arguably been Arsenal’s most consistent and stable defender.

However, Arsenal’s current back line has yet to allow a goal, and immediately starting Koscielny is not as favorable as it seems.

It will be interesting to see how Wenger uses him tomorrow, but at the very least he must be happy to have some depth available on the bench.

Whether Arsenal can maintain their remarkable run of clean sheets will also keep fans entertained, and there's a good chance that they can maintain their impressive run, especially at home against the league's worst team.

Overall, Arsenal should be happy with their prospects about Saturday’s game. They’ve finally scored a few goals and have the luxury of being one of the few clubs who have yet to allow a goal all season.

How patient will the fans be with Giroud and Walcott, and how will a healthy Koscielny be utilized? Only Wenger knows for sure, but tomorrow will give us some insight into his future plans.


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