Southampton: Hasenhuttl has selection headache ahead of Arsenal game

Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl has confirmed that he will have a selection headache whilst choosing his starting line-up to face Arsenal on Thursday.

Saints restarted their Premier League season with a 3-0 win over Norwich City on Friday but were without two players – Shane Long and Moussa Djenepo.

Djenepo will be serving the second of a three-match ban and so will not be available to face Arsenal, but Hasenhuttl has confirmed that Long will return to contention this time around.

Speaking to the media in his pre-match press conference, Hasenhuttl said:

“My players are all fit Longy is back, he’s trained with the team all this week. So we have another opportunity in the front.

“Moussa is out with his suspension, but the rest of the guys are available.”

Ralph Hasenhuttl, Manager of Southampton speaks with Shane Long of Southampton (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)

Shane Long becoming available once again means that a decision will have to be made on who to pair with Danny Ings upfront.

Young striker Michael Obafemi started on Friday and showed some good moments, with the way he set up Nathan Redmond’s goal late on perhaps the highlight of his display.

Up until the Coronavirus pandemic suspended the season though, Long had worked his way into a position of strength in the Saints squad and had become almost the perfect partner for Ings.

Obafemi and Long possess electric pace but the latter looks to have the edge when it comes to pressing in the right areas consistently – probably due to the fact that he is 14 years his teammates senior and has much more experience of how to play as a forward.

Che Adams is also an option for Hasenhuttl but has not been a regular starter since the start of the 2019/20 campaign.

With everything taken into account and Long now back in full training, it is hard to look past the Irishman for this weekend given the impact he had before the pause in the season.

Obafemi and Adams will need to be ready and will surely be handed many more minutes between now and early August, but it looks as though the strike pairing that Hasenhuttl prefers is clear for now.

Next: Dates and TV picks set for Saints' July fixtures