Arsene Wenger has been impressed with Saints’ start to the season and has put Arsenal “on alert” ahead of the visit of Nigel Adkins ’ men.
Long time Gunners boss Wenger thinks the positive approach adopted by Saints, following on from that shown by other promoted teams over the past few years, makes them a tough test for his side at the Emirates tomorrow.
“They were impressive in the two games I’ve seen,” said Wenger. “The one against Man City and the one against Man United.
“In the end you wondered how they lost both games, so we are on alert because we know it is a team who plays with a positive attitude and can score goals.
“Overall, in the last three, four years, the teams that come up have a much more positive approach.
“We had Blackpool, Norwich, for example.
“Many teams who come up show they are not scared to play in the Premier League and they don’t just defend.
“Most of the time, I must say, it paid off.”
Saints are without a win this season, however, and Wenger concedes that does make it harder to keep playing such positive football.
“Three games without a win affects a little bit the way you approach the game,” he reflected.
“Until now they know they have potential and they of course will try to translate that potential into points and maybe their approach will be a bit more cautious.”
Arsenal will resume their Premier League campaign looking to kick on from a 2-0 win at Liverpool – their third match unbeaten.
Midfielder Abou Diaby is rated as 50/50 after picking up a minor knee problem while on international duty with France, and may be rested ahead of next week’s Champions League opener in Montpellier.
Wenger said: “Diaby is in a position where we can certainly play him. We just have to assess the risk to play him or not.
“We won’t take a gamble on him, especially because of his history.”
Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny is fit again following a rib injury, but ex-Saints winger Theo Walcott will be assessed after missing England’s game against Ukraine on Tuesday with a virus.
Meanwhile, Wenger said he is in no hurry to open talks over a new contract.
Gunners chief executive Ivan Gazidis has indicated the club are ready to offer the long-serving Frenchman fresh terms before his current deal expires in 2014.
But the 62-year-old said: “I have two years to go. What is important for me is Southampton .
“At the moment I am not in the mood to think about the long-term future.”