How Arsenal could line-up against Southampton as Arteta faces midfield headache with Xhaka and Partey out but Pepe back

MIKEL ARTETA has limited options for his midfield line-up against Southampton on Wednesday.

But Nicolas Pepe could be given an immediate recall after his three-match ban ended.

Saints travel to an empty Emirates Stadium for the 6pm kick-off, the Gunners' first since London entered Tier 3 of coronavirus restrictions.

Following the defeat to Burnley on the weekend, 15th-placed Arsenal are experiencing a period in stark contrast to Southampton's fine form.

In fourth, Ralph Hasenhuttl's side are unbeaten on the road since the opening weekend of the season.

Arteta's defence will be tested by the visitors, who have scored ten goals in their last five away days.

Hector Bellerin cannot be called upon for the clash following his fifth booking of the season against Burnley.

David Luiz is a doubt due to a head injury, leaving Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Rob Holding to deputise in their absence.

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Cedric Soares could feature against his old club if Arteta prefers, with Pablo Mari and Calum Chambers other options.

In midfield, Thomas Partey remains unavailable with Granit Xhaka banned for three matches following his red card on the weekend.

Pushing to replace the Swiss midfielder are Dani Ceballos and Joe Willock.

Just as one Arsenal player begins a ban, another's ends and Pepe could return to the midfield.

Willian's lacklustre performances of late may push Arteta into recalling Pepe – despite his anger at the Ivorian's dismissal versus Leeds.

Reiss Nelson and Gabriel Martinelli are thought to be unlikely to feature, along with Sead Kolasinac.

That could mean Alexandre Lacazette keeps his place in behind Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, unless Eddie Nketiah earns a start.

Bukayo Saka is expected to continue down the left flank.

No new injury issues have been reported for Southampton, who may welcome Nathan Redmond back to the line-up at the expense of former Gunners attacker Theo Walcott.

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