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Southampton must unleash Ibrahima Diallo vs Arsenal

Southampton face a stern test this weekend, as they host the league-toppers Arsenal.

Mikel Arteta brings his side in blistering form, having won nine this season and lost just once. Meanwhile, the Saints are coming off the back of a fine victory, but only their first in seven Premier League games.

Against Leeds United, the Gunners suffered as they were strangled in the midfield as they scraped through with a 1-0 win. 

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It is arguably the toughest test they have faced this season, as Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka were restricted to 6.8 and 6.9 SofaScore ratings respectively.

Therefore, Ralph Hasenhuttl must focus on this as the area with which to hopefully snatch something from the game.

To do this, he must return the relentless presence of Ibrahima Diallo to the starting line-up alongside James Ward-Prowse.

The 23-year-old is a bundle of energy every time he plays, and when sat beside the captain the burden of creativity will be relieved.

Whilst Ainsley Maitland-Niles will have to be dropped due to the game being against his parent club, regardless his performance in midweek was one which warranted a return to the bench anyway.

He must be replaced by the young Frenchman who has had limited chances this season, with an average of 46 minutes per game under the Austrian.

When handed opportunities, however, he has averaged 2.15 tackles, 1.51 interceptions and 18.24 pressures per 90. If he is on top of his defensive game, he can be the midfield powerhouse to cause Arteta untold problems.

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It is clear that Hasenhuttl thinks highly of him, and with this enforced change, he might now have to rely on him to prove his praises correct.

Back in January of last year, he said about the midfielder:

“I must say also Ibra was amazing. He is a fantastic signing from the summer. He knows what he has to do. He knows what it’s about to play in our six position”

Diallo will now face one of the toughest tests of his career against the most in-form side in the league but if he can be at the top of his game, he will be key to any chances Hasenhuttl has of a result.

The £12m brute could be the man to ask questions of the Gunners’ head coach, Mikel Arteta, on Sunday afternoon.

Article title: Southampton must unleash Ibrahima Diallo vs Arsenal

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