I had a nervousness before the Crustal Palace game that belied the form that Arsenal had going in to it.

I was nervous ahead of the Brighton game that belied the terrible form Brighton were in.

I am nervous ahead of this game which belies the fact Southampton took an absolute pasting last weekend and haven’t won a football match in their last six.

I just hope I am misplaced in this feeling today.

Southampton are a high pressing team. They are an intensity team and they are a team who, after an absolute drubbing in front of their own fans last Saturday, will come absolutely firing out of the traps today I suspect. And given how we’ve started the last two matches, any Arsenal fan that doesn’t harbour at least some level of concern, is fooling themselves I think.

They may be a team whose confidence isn’t too high, but you could have said that about Brighton and if there is one thing we have learned about this Arsenal team over the last ten years or so, we are the club that loves to give hope where seemingly there is none.

So I go in to this game with some trepidation, which I have to say wasn’t helped too much by reading some of the comments from Arteta in his press conference yesterday. What I was hoping to hear was the sound of acknowledgement. I said it yesterday; I wanted Mikel to make me feel like he was effectively saying to the Arsenal fans “guys, I know what I did wrong, I know how to fix it, we’ve got a different plan for this weekend, you’ll see a different Arsenal”. Instead he moved to defend his decision to play Xhaka at left back, even saying “just look at the stats when Xhaka is playing at left back” as if he had the numbers to back up a team that can play well with the guy there. Even if we ignore the eye test of last weekend, where the first goal was scored by build up play on that side, I saw a good thread on Twitter from 7amkickoff who did actually look at the stats. In the Premier League it reads: played – 10, won – 3, drawn – 4, lost – 3, 15 goals scored, 13 goals conceded, which is distinctly mid table form. That is not stats you want to hang your hat on.

But for me this isn’t about Xhaka the player, it is about the manager and his decision to double his risk by weakening us in two positions instead of one (left back and central midfield), so for that reason I hope he was just playing a curveball to the press to keep Southampton guessing as to how we will line up today.

I fear he wasn’t though. I fear that we are going to see the same team as last weekend and if that is the case, I think we’re in trouble, because the midfield of Sambi on his own with Odegaard and Smith Rowe as the two eights, didn’t work. Sambi is not Partey and cannot dominate a midfield space on his own. Xhaka is not a left back and will be caught out. Odegaard needs to be further up the pitch and closer towards Saka, not tucking in deeper to Sambi to support him. And Smith Rowe also needs to be in a position where he can drive at defences, not how he was last weekend.

So this morning I have fear because of the lack of confidence that probably exists, as well as the worry that Arteta will stick to a system in which the central midfield that isn’t strong enough, coupled with a Southampton side who will smell blood if we look like we’ve looked in the last two games.

I think this is going to be a cagey game for that reason and if we are to win it, it feels like it’ll be similar to Villa in that we’ll get one and have to hold on, which isn’t good for my nerves I have to tell you. Southampton will approach this game wanting to play it in our half, they will press our fullbacks and will certainly look to exploit space in behind two weak options given Tomiyasu and Tierney aren’t fit and Cedric and Tavares/Xhaka are nowhere near as good in that position.

They will look to have their whole team pressed high and if that is the case and Arteta persists with Lacazette, it will play entirely in to their hands because their back line will no he won’t spin in behind. So I am hoping that Arteta shifts it up a bit and he picks somebody who will run in to those channels behind a high line. Martinelli or – dare I say it – even Eddie Nketiah would be a better option for today and if we play a more rapid player centrally then it may force Southampton’s defence to sit a little deeper. If that happens but the Southampton midfield and attack press high, then if we break the press and you have players like Saka and Odegaard further up the pitch, we could find ourselves with pockets in between the lines of Southampton midfield and attack with which we’ll have space to impose our attacking game. But if Lacazette starts it will encourage Southampton to push the entire line up, be compact and reduce space, with the ball played in our own defensive half.

Of course all of this is just theory and observation, but I can’t be the only one who sees this and i’m an idiot when it comes to football tactics. But if we persist with the same team, if this unfolds as I’m suggesting above and if we end up dropping points today, then I am going to have massive questions for the manager. Because if a complete tactical doughnut like me can see it, why can’t Arteta?

I sound like I’m on a bit of a downer with the manager at the moment and that is perhaps a little harsh given how far we have come this season, but the season is 38 games long, it’s not in pockets in which you judge and right now, it feels to my emotional eyes as if we could be on the cusp of some problems unless Arteta finds solutions. And you find solutions by learning from your mistakes.

Learn from the mistakes of last weekend, Mikel, please. I want this season back on track and I’ll cheer you on every step of the way. But you have o show that this learning is happening.

Up the Arsenal.