Mikel Arteta says trimming Arsenal squad is January transfer window priority

The Gunners were able to offload Emiliano Martinez and Henrikh Mkhitaryan on permanent deals in September while a month later Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira departed on loan.

But forgotten man Mesut Ozil remained at the Emirates along with Shkodran Mustafi and Sead Kolasinac, who have barely featured in the Premier League this season.

Arsenal have been linked with a loan move for Real Madrid playmaker Isco next month, but first of all technical director Edu will attempt to raise funds by moving on those who are surplus to requirements.

One player who is not set to depart is attacker Reiss Nelson, despite failing to play for the club since December 3.

It has been a stop-start campaign for the 21-year-old, who has scored once in eight outings for the Gunners this term. Mikeal Arteta confirmed Nelson had a muscular issue which saw him in and out of training, but not 100 per cent fit.

Premier League: Arsenal vs Southampton

The Gunners have usually been in excellent form in midweek games this season, winning all six of their Europa League fixtures, but woeful against Premier League opposition, losing four of their last five league games as pressure mounts on Arteta.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored more goals against Arsenal at the Emirates than for them so far this season, but will continue to be relied upon as Southampton visit the capital.

Granit Xhaka will be suspended after ridiculously getting sent off against Burnley on Sunday for grabbing Ashley Westwood around the neck. Whether or not that improves the Gunners’ chances of a result remains to be seen.

Arteta will definitely be without Thomas Partey with a thigh injury, while Nicolas Pepe is also suspended. Reiss Nelson has a chance of returning after a head injury, but Sead Kolasinac is unlikely to make the squad.

David Luiz will be assessed after missing the 1-0 defeat to Burnley with the after effects of a concussion injury sustained in that horrific clash with Raul Jimenez, while the game will come too soon for Gabriel Martinelli, who has stepped up his recovery from an ACL injury in the past week.

As for Southampton, Ralph Hassenhuttl has a fully fit squad to choose from, which seems entirely in keeping with everything going well at St Mary’s at the minute.

Danny Ings and Nathan Redmond are both available after injuries recently, and the pair combined for Saints’ third goal against Sheffield United at the weekend.

A win for Hassenhuttl could send Southampton top of the table for the second time this season, albeit for a maximum of two hours as Liverpool and Spurs play at Anfield ten minutes after the full-time whistle goes at the Emirates.

Arsenal need a win to affect things at the other end of the table, as they bid to pull themselves away from a relegation battle that is starting to tighten up.

Defeat coupled with a win for Brighton could send the Gunners as low as 16th, while a much-needed win could see them leapfrog Leeds United into 14th and stop the rot.

Arsenal take on Southampton at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday, December 16th. Kick-off is at 6pm

Arsenal’s Kolasinac tests positive for Covid-19 and Aubameyang sleeps on airport floor in difficult international break for the Gunners

Kolasinac’s positive test is the latest of a number of Covid-19 cases in the Premier League, with Arsenal teammate Mohamed Elneny also returning a positive result.

Elneny’s Egypt compatriot – Liverpool’s Mo Salah – has also got the disease following the latest round of international fixtures.

Arsenal man Kolasinac, who plays for Bosnia and Herzegovina on the international stage, is one of two in the Bosnia squad to have returned a positive coronavirus test.

It is unlikely that either the Bosnian or Mohamed Elneny will be available to manager Mikel Arteta for the Gunners next Premier League game.

Elneny continues to self-isolate in Cairo where he is said to be displaying no symptoms of Covid-19.

Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has also had a challenging international break, sharing on his social media platforms that he had to sleep on the floor of Banjul Airport in the Gambia on Monday night.

Aubameyang slammed the Confederation of African Football regarding the incident, which took place before Gabon’s fixture with the Gambia in Africa Cup of Nations qualifying.

The Gabon squad weren’t allowed to leave the airport due to an alleged administrative problem.