Arsenal are out to seek revenge over Southampton with a win and aim to keep their chase for a top-four place on-track.
Southampton proved to be the catalyst in stopping Arsenal’s rampant 22-game unbeaten run earlier this season as manager Ralph Hasenhuttl won his first home game in charge back in December. That defeat proved crucial for Southampton in their relegation battle, while Arsenal have since endured an inconsistent period in all competitions.
Arsenal’s inconsistency is at its peak in recent games, with the side having won four and lost four in their last eight games in all competition. Unai Emery’s men did recover from a shock defeat to BATE Borisov previous week to put the Belarusians to the sword with a comprehensive 3-0 victory on Thursday at the Emirates.
Arsenal, however now need to ensure they get back on track in the Premier League and make sure to collect three points in games that they are expected to win. Victory over Southampton will ensure they remain firmly on track in the top-four race with Chelsea and Manchester United very much in the hunt. However, with United playing Liverpool, Emery could sense this as an opportunity to get into the top four.
If the victory over Arsenal back in December provided a boost to the Saints, their recent results have instead been disappointing. After flirting with the safety zone for periods, Southampton were sent back into the relegation zone during the last matchday by Cardiff City with a 2-1 win.
The Saints know very well that a victory against Arsenal will go a long way to helping them ensure safety come the end of the season. Southampton enter a busy period where they are set to face fellow relegation rivals Fulham followed by games against Manchester United and Tottenham later and will want to build momentum ahead of it.
Team News & Tactics
Unai Emery does not seem to have any reprise from defensive injuries. Sokratis only returned to the side, and then Laurent Koscielny limped off against BATE during midweek. Emery did suggest that Koscielny was taken off as a precautionary measure, but it might be the case the manager would not risk the captain for this game, meaning Sokratis could be in line for his first start in more than a month.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles is another player who might miss out. The versatile midfielder has been out of training for the last two days with an illness. Emery could replace him with Stephan Lichtsteiner at right-back on Sunday.
There might be a place for Mesut Ozil in the team after the German impressed in the game against BATE. In case Emery feels otherwise, there is the option of Aaron Ramsey who is fit again and in contention for a start. Emery also has the option of Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the creative position. Alexandre Lacazette should be back into the team and a likely starter alongside top scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang up front.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Leno; Lichtsteiner, Mustafi, Sokratis, Kolasinac; Torreira, Xhaka; Mkhitaryan, Ozil, Aubameyang; Lacazette
Ralph Hasenhuttl has a few concerns in his team ahead of the Arsenal game. Midfielder Mario Lemina and striker Danny Ings are absent for the visit to the Emirates. Southampton will be boosted by the return of Stuart Armstrong and Michael Obafemi, both of whom have been back in training for two weeks now.
Hasenhuttl will stick with three at the back with Jan Bednarek, Jack Stephens, and Jannik Vestergaard likely to man the defence. James Ward-Prowse, Oriol Romeu and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg could be the three players chosen for central midfield, sandwiched between the wingbacks Yan Valery and Ryan Bertrand.
Hasenhuttl could opt for Shane Long to start with Nathan Redmond in attack against the Gunners. Charlie Austin, who has scored in all five of his appearances against Arsenal so far, will provide options to the manager from the bench, having netted the winning goal last time out.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): McCarthy; Bednarek, Stephens, Vestergaard; Valery, Ward-Prowse, Romeu, Hojbjerg, Bertrand; Long, Redmond
1. Arsenal Clean Sheet – NO @ 1.53
2. Southampton Asian Handicap +1.0 @ 2.070
1. Full Time Result – Draw @ 4.75
- Arsenal are unbeaten in their last 23 home league games against Southampton (W17 D6) since a 0-1 loss in November 1987.
- Southampton have won none of their 19 away Premier League games against Arsenal (D5 L14) – the most a team has played away at another without ever winning in the competition.
- Arsenal are unbeaten in 12 Premier League home games (W10 D2), winning the last six in a row.
- Against sides starting the day in the relegation zone, the Gunners have won their last 30 at the Emirates since a 4-4 draw with Tottenham in October 2008.
- Southampton are unbeaten in their last four Premier League away games (W2 D2).
Player to Watch
Aubameyang’s stature as a clinical striker was on the rise as the Gabonese consistently kept adding to his tally in the Premier League. It now feels like a long time since the striker scored a goal for Arsenal in the Premier League, having netted just once in his last four top-flight appearances.
Aubameyang’s record at the Emirates is quite impressive as he has had a hand in nine goals in the last six Premier League games, and one can only expect him to improve on that record. Personally, the striker would want to see himself back among the scorers and boost Arsenal’s chances of finishing the season in the top four.
Arsenal 3-1 Southampton
Did anyone expect Southampton to beat Arsenal when the Gunners were flying high on a 22-game unbeaten run? Don’t think so! Do people expect an inconsistent Arsenal to get all three points against this Southampton side? Yes indeed! The Saints are going through a terrible run of games and are seemingly out of sorts and in clear danger of relegation.
Arsenal’s inconsistent form sure is a worry. But their brilliant home form is difficult to ignore. Expect the Gunners to sweep aside Southampton at the Emirates and pile more misery on Hasenhuttl and his team.