It was hard work for Arsenal and a very close run thing against a confident, tough and well organised Southampton side, especially with their keeper having one of those nights when it looked like nothing could beat him. But the Gunners kept going and Alexis grabbed us a deserved winner and made it three wins and three clean sheets in a row.
So now Arsenal can start to feel confident that we are strong in all areas of the pitch and can look ahead to the next month and the chance to make up some ground on the teams above us. And we also have some key players returning from injury in that time, with Theo Walcott and Wojciech Szczesny possibly this weekend followed by Mathieu Debuchy and David Ospina and then Mikel Arteta all before christmas.
But I do not think Arsenal can afford to wait for the return of all these players before starting to rotate the first team players, because the risk of injury increases every time the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck play in every game and usually for 90 minutes. I would be tempted to rest Welbeck and start the Ox against Stoke on Saturday to start the ball rolling.
Then next week’s trip to Turkey for the final Champions League game with Galatasaray gives Arsene Wenger a chance to rest Alexis and if Debuchy is back, either Calum Chambers or Per Mertesacker. We don’t have much choice in central midfield, at least until Arteta is back in a couple of weeks, but Ramsey and Flamini have not played too many games so far and so should not be a problem.
But imagine if we lost Welbeck, Mertesacker or even Alexis, it could spell disaster for this busy period which sees Arsenal play away to Liverpool, West Ham and Southampton with a home game against QPR and an FA cup game all in the space of two weeks. So do you agree that the boss needs to give them a rest before the games come thick and fast?