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Xhaka returns to Arsenal team to face Southampton while Guendouzi is dropped from squad

Ahead of Arsenal’s fixture versus Southampton later this evening, head coach Mikel Arteta has made some interesting changes to his starting lineup.

Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka has returned to the team after suffering a sprained right ankle during the club’s clash against Manchester City.

While some initially feared the 27-year-old would miss at least two to three weeks of football, Xhaka returned to full training yesterday and is hopefully prepared ahead of this evening’s fixture.

Meanwhile, Emiliano Martinez was named in the team ahead of the injured Bernd Leno while Kieran Tierney and Eddie Nketiah replace Sead Kolasinac and Alexandre Lacazette.

One interesting final change sees Matteo Guendouzi absent from the 20 man squad with academy midfielder Matt Smith named in his place.

The 21-year-old was at the centre of controversy on Saturday after he was seen grabbing Brighton forward Neal Maupay by the throat. The midfielder luckily escaped a ban by the Football Association but will still be absent for the Gunners tonight.

Speaking to the media ahead of the match, Arteta said “squad management” was the reason behind Guendouzi’s absence.

“Whatever internal issue we have, we deal with it privately. The needs of the team and football club are always the same, put the best players on the football pitch that are 100% focused to win the game,” he said.

Arsenal face Southampton at St Mary’s Stadium this evening at 6pm.

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