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Arsenal return to Premier League action on Sunday with a tricky trip to face Southampton on the south coast, with Shkodran Mustafi confirmed as an absentee for the game.

The Gunners will want to bounce back after a 3-1 home defeat to Manchester United last time out, where the Germany international was hurt.

Mustafi was guilty of coughing up Arsenal possession to Jesse Lingard for the visitors’ second goal and duly limped out of the encounter well before the half-time whistle.

Wenger has stated that the former Valencia enforcer will not be ready to make a return to the first-team fold for the game against Southampton.

“The only one out at the moment is Mustafi – he is certainly not available for Sunday,” the Arsenal manager told the club’s official website.

“There’s a little chance of him coming back for West Ham, but he will not be available for Sunday.”

Mustafi’s importance to Arsenal has been evident in recent weeks and months, with the club going on a run of improved form after his return from injury.

As such, Wenger has a decision to make over who will replace the German at the back for the Gunners – but a switch in formation could well be the option he should choose.

Arsenal have played a three-man rearguard this term, with Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal most-commonly fielded as his partners at the back.

However, despite the availability of Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny and Calum Chambers to deputise in Mustafi’s absence, moving to a back four would solve the headache.

This would allow Arsenal to bring in an extra attacking midfielder such as Alex Iwobi or Theo Walcott into the starting XI and see Wenger revert back to the 4-2-3-1 formation that he has used for the majority of his time in North London.

Other members of the Premier League’s top-six regularly adjust their team’s set-up according to the opposition or players available, rotating between a back three or four.

It will be interesting to see whether Wenger feels Arsenal have the flexibility to follow suit against Southampton or he opts to field one of the less-than convincing deputises to take Mustafi’s place on Sunday.

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