Should Arteta play his best team against Southampton in the Cup or the League game?

Arsenal are unbeaten in their six games since Christmas Day, and they now have to try and continue that run with two games against Southampton in the space of three days. With the Saints just two points ahead of Arsenal in the table, and both sides having aspirations of reaching the European places, it will be interesting to see whether both clubs save their best sides for the League game on Tuesday night or go all out for the Cup.

As the Gunners are on a good run now, there are many fans that could choose to bet on Arsenal to win both games, although I personally wouldn’t be keen unless I used something like the 22Bet bonus terms to get some free money from the bookies.

The reason I wouldn’t be so confident is because just four weeks ago, Southampton came to the Emirates and were very unlucky to leave with just a point, and in the six games since the Saints have only conceded one goal against Man City and two against Leicester. One of the four clean sheets included a win against the Champions Liverpool.

Arteta ball

Arsenal’s manager Mikel Arteta holds a match ball during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Southampton at the Emirates Stadium in London on December 16, 2020. (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

At St Mary’s their record is even better, having seven clean sheets in their last nine, and the only defeats coming against Man City and Man United. So their record has been very impressive to say the least.

Perhaps Saturday’s game may be different as it is an FA cup Fourth Round tie, and Mikel Arteta will be keen to stay in with a chance of retaining the trophy. Arteta was asked today on about whether he would have a strong team out for the Cup game, and he said: “As strong as it can be. We will assess the players, who is fit to play, who has recovered, we have a few issues after the game as well so in the next two days we will see the best possible line up. Southampton, we’re going to be playing them twice in three days which is strange, and try to keep the FA Cup run going as well.”

It remains to be seen if he keeps any of his big guns fresh for Tuesday night or if he will prioritise aiming to return to Europe through winning the FA Cup again. He may consider that ismore likely than gaining a plce in the Top Six.

If you were Mikel Arteta, would you play your best team on Saturday, or save a few for the League match on Tuesday?

Tags FA Cup Southampton


  1. AndersS says:

    Pick up the phone, call their manager and agree on both teams saving a handful first picks in the cup game.

    1. Declan says:

      If I understand what you are suggesting I think it would be illegal and both teams would be punished by the FA.

      1. AndersS says:

        I know, it is illegal to make formal agreement. But, I wouldn’t be surpeised, if manager already have a n informal chat about these things.
        I rarely see a cup match between 2 Premier league teams, where one team line-up with their best starting 11 and the other team come with a ” team”. I doubt this is not coordinated to some degree.

  2. Declan says:

    You play your best team in both games.

    1. ozziegunner says:

      👍 Swapping and changing the team, does not build teamwork and consistent good performances.

      1. John Ibrahim says:

        lets burn out the players….maybe they are not human after all?

        in fifa21 u can play them 10 games straight and they survive very well

        1. ozziegunner says:

          John most successful EPL teams have won using little rotation, but have been lucky with no injuries to core players.
          Burning out of players can be reduced by proper management of rotation and substitutions.

  3. Nassar Athamneh says:

    He should pick his strongest team do that we stand a chance of knocking the saints out of the FA CUP AND we have more than a week to prepare for UTD WHICH I believe are also a winnable match .make no mistake when smith Rowe plays down the middle with SAJS COMING inside and linking with others they free the attackers to go through and create chances to score .The short passes in the final third breaker teams and creates scoring chances

  4. gotanidea says:

    I’d play the B team in the FA Cup, because EPL is more important

    1. adajim says:

      arent we using the B team to play since chelsea?

      1. gotanidea says:

        That old B team is now the A team and the old A team has become B team 😁

    2. Atid says:

      26 players left in the squad after the recent departure., 27 if you include Balogun, personally I would try to play as many of those as possible.

      Certainly the EPL is more important but realistically top 6 is our best hope. Remember 5 subs available in the Fa Cup, 6 if it goes to extra time, plus another 3 available in the EPL.

      Bar the 2nd choice keeper I would try to give everyone some minutes. Ceballos and Mari could be held back until the midweek game as they are recovering from knocks.

      Remember United are up after these 2 matches.

      1. gotanidea says:

        I’d start the B team, then I’d use all five substitutes

  5. adajim says:

    i can give you 11, that are not first team starter presently or didnt start last match and should get the job done.
    leno(we cant trust Runa yet)
    Bellerin Mustafi Gabriel AMN
    Elneny Partey(he needs game time)
    Pepe cebalos Williams

    ill prefer the above, thats my opinion which is far from reality, the reality is, Nketia will start and spearhead the attack, Balogun indecision and reluctant on his future will only limit him to bench or u-23, this i support we cant be his postal board to help him advertise to the big spenders

    however our job is to get behind the team, MA is in charge of picking the best team for the game, Soton form has drop, we are not facing same redhot team we played some weeks back, so it should be easier to play with. Hoe willian, or Ceballos will fair in CAM position will be interesting, another game where we will miss ESR i guess

  6. Atid says:

    I would give chambers and soares a run out against their former club in the cup.
    AMN Chambers Gabriel Soares
    Elneny Willock
    Pepe Willian Martinelli

    With a strong bench

  7. Innit says:

    Our best 11

  8. Grandad says:

    I think Tierney, Saka ,ESR and Laca will be rested on Saturday , for sure.Despite their good form this season, I think we can win both games providing we match their energy.I would like to see Holding partnered by Gabriel in central defence with AMN being used to shackle Walcott.

    1. sekman says:

      the point on walcott is spot on

  9. Dino says:

    A loss will be detrimental to the newly found confidence of the team, whereas the team that has been winning is a bunch of playing still trying to establish combinations. So continue with the strongest team to mantain confidence, and to strenghthen combinations, and again FA cup seems like a more realistic option into Europe than a top consdering that man u. City liverpool, the spuds, leicester, everton, villa and west ham are strong contenders of top 6 this season. We started off badly due to Arteta stubboness in selecting the useless Willian and playing without a #10

  10. durand says:

    Probably easier if I said who I would NOT play, and give them some rest. Holding, Tierney, Xhaka, Saka, Auba, and Laca.

    Leno basically has to play, and AMN should be one of the FB’s, and depending on Arteta’s mood one of Bellerin and Soares plays.

    Midfield I’d play ElNeny as DM, and probably Willock, but would bring on Azeez to replace him later as a sub, or Ceballos to start and Willock as a sub.

    The attack has to include Martinelli; he needs the minutes to find form, Arteta loves Nketiah for these type matches also.

    I’d play Pepe on the wing, and Willian as a 10: because he’s been trash on the wings. With all the subs available, Nelson could get some minutes as well, but it’s the midfield subs where we are thin.

    AMN Mustafi Gabriel Soares
    ElNeny Ceballos / Willock
    Martinelli Willian Pepe

  11. Danny says:

    Think we will be sick of Southampton after playing them twice in quick succession and i don’t fancy our chance of getting a result in either games both home wins for me and back to reality for team and fans!!

  12. Twig says:

    I’ll play my best team on Saturday.

  13. S.J says:


    Nelson. Willian. Pepe.

    Willock. Elneny.

    Niles. Gabriel. Chambers. Bellerin.


    This will be my preferred line up for Saturday.

    I think these players have a thing to prove to the coach and us supporters.

    But to be honest, I do not think the above selection gives me any sort of confidence.

  14. Longbenark says:

    Martinelli .

    Pepe. Ceballos. Nelson.

    Azeez. Elneny.

    Niles. Gabriel. Chambers. Bellerin.


    Would love to see the team firing from all cylinders.

  15. Trudeau says:

    Players I’d love to see in the starting XI are AMN, Chambers, Gabriel, Nelson, Martinelli and Pepe. Preferably Pepe on the left and Nelson on the right.

    I think Ceballos and Willian will also get starts. So will complete the side with Leno, Soares and Xhaka.

  16. Samuel Akinsola Adebosin says:

    I will not only advocate that Mikel Arteta the Gunners gaffer should play his best Arsenal eleven team at away against Southampton in the FA Cup on Saturday, but MUST play his very best XI Gunners team against the Saints in both the Cup and the League.matches.

    Despite that the two matches will be played within the space of only three days apart as the interval, the Gunners who are professionals will be more than able to cope efficiently with the playing of these their next two matches at St. Mary’s on Saturday this weekend in the Cup and next Tuesday in the PL.

    This Arteta playing his very best XI Gunners team for the two matches advocacy by me, but who can defend stoutly in the two matches to not concede any goals to the Saints in the two matches, but score goals to win the two matches in the one legged two consecutive matches match encounters that will soon take place between the duo club sides, is to position the Gunners on the winning side mode in the two matches.

    Which if Arteta accepts and carry it out to the letter, us and him will not be disappointmented by the Gunners who will of course play the two matches. But us would be appointed by his very best XI Gunners team that he should play in the two matches.

  17. kingandroidx says:

    We have enough players to win both match. We must, we can.

  18. Shakir says:

    Epl is important but FA cup,we should defend it.
    Also welcome to anfield😅😅😅😅😅

      1. Hamish says:

        My Starting XI: (For the cup game)

        Soares Holding Gabriel Tierney
        Xhaka Elneny
        Pepe Ceballos Martienlli

        1. Sue says:

          Sweet 👌

  19. Roachie says:

    What is obvious from all the comments on here is the goalkeeper situation needs to be sorted quickly. If we can’t use our No2 keeper in a cup game what happens if Leno gets injured or ill at some point? The transfer window is open and a keeper should be a priority

  20. Dboy says:

    I think the league and Europa should be prioritized. We should field our best 11 in the league game. But than again we always have the temptation of extending our record as Kings of the FA cup. Tough one to call.

  21. instrooments says:

    The formation below shud b OK for the FA CUP. (Auba needs to score more)

    Martinelli Auba pepe
    Ceballos Elneny
    AMN. Gab Mustafi Bellerin

    For league
    AUBA LACA Saka
    Xhaka Partey
    Tierney Luiz Holding Soares

    We have two decent teams , Southampton do not

  22. Grandad says:

    Your right Roachie.Good deputies for Leno and for that matter Tierney, are badly needed.

    1. Roachie says:

      Grandad, I’m hearing we’ve signed the Brighton keeper on loan. Good news I think

      1. ozziegunner says:

        Matt Ryan on loan; goal keeper sorted!

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