Following the devastating 2-1 home defeat by Cardiff City last time out that saw Southampton slip into the relegation zone, the need to pick up points regularly from here on in has become even more of a priority – they can do exactly that if Ralph Hasenhuttl makes a risky call at Arsenal on Sunday.
Well, despite favouring a 4-2-2-2 formation at the previous clubs he has managed, the Austrian has had to adapt to the situation the clubs finds itself in and the players he has at his disposal at St Mary’s, and he has often favoured either a 3-4-2-1 or 3-5-1-1 system.
However, while it may have made them sturdier at the back – on paper at least – they haven’t looked great from an attacking point of view, which hasn’t been helped by regular injury issues for Danny Ings and Michael Obafemi.
The latter was pictured in training during the training camp in Tenerife however and may well be in contention to start at the Emirates Stadium, which presents Hasenhuttl with a big opportunity.
Normally a five-at-the-back formation for a tough-looking trip to north London would make sense, but Unai Emery’s men have shown time and time again that they are there to be got at defensively with players like Shkodran Mustafi prone to errors and lack of concentration.
By lining up with a 4-2-2-2 formation – something the 51-year-old Saints boss was surely working with his players on during the break in the Canary Islands – he could utilise the pace, pressing and never-say-die attitude of Obafemi and Shane Long to really put the hosts’ defence under pressure.
Arsenal have the players to hurt Southampton at the other end, so it makes sense to give them a big problem to think about in their weak spot.
With Redmond on one wing and potentially Stuart Armstrong on the other, they would have a better chance of sneaking a positive result.