PREM: Southampton v Arsenal preview


Southampton v Arsenal preview

Arsenal are sweating on the fitness of Laurent Koscielny ahead of Wednesday's Premier League clash at Southampton.


The defender is struggling with a calf problem but manager Arsene Wenger is hoping he will pass a fitness test to be involved at St Mary's.

"We have some worries for Koscielny he might not be available, he will have a test today," Wenger said. "We will make the decision after training."

Arsenal boosted their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League thanks to Sunday's 2-0 win over Manchester United. However, the Gunners remain seven points behind third-placed Liverpool with two games in hand and six points behind Man City in fourth with one game in hand, leaving the clash against Southampton as another must-win encounter.

When asked about the race for the top four, the Frenchman added: "For us, we just want to win out games. That's all we can do. We had a bad spell but we have recovered from it. We need to show we can be consistent until the end of the season."

Meanwhile, Southampton manager Claude Puel could welcome back striker Charlie Austin, who has been out with a long-term injury.

Austin, who still the club's top scorer this season with nine goals, has been absent since December with a shoulder injury but he returned to action for Southampton's U23s on Friday night and could be in contention to face the Gunners.

"It was important to see a game with Charlie," Puel said. "Charlie and Matt Targett played for one hour, they have worked hard in training sessions and we will see if they can participate this season.

"With Charlie, four or five months without a game means the intensity is very difficult. I am happy with his work and we will see if he can play in the next games. He has worked very well. We need to see if he can continue this work and get physically fit it will be interesting for him."

Matt Targett, who played alongside Austin in Southampton's U23s on Friday, could return from a hamstring problem.

Defender Virgil van Dijk (ankle) and back-up goalkeeper Alex McCarthy (hamstring) remain on the sidelines.

Granit Xhaka limped out of the win over Manchester United but should be fit to face Southampton.

Lucas Perez is also available following a thigh problem but Shkodran Mustafi (thigh) and Santi Cazorla (Achilles) remain sidelined.


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