Arsenal will have their task cut out when they lock horns with a high-flying Southampton side at the Emirates Stadium this week.
Arsenal will be looking to bring an end to their five-game winless streak in the 2020/21 Premier League when they play hosts to an in-form Southampton outfit on Wednesday evening at the Emirates.
Mikel Arteta finds himself under intense pressure after the Gunners have picked up just one point in their previous five league outings, losing the last three on the bounce, with the latest defeat coming against Burnley this past weekend. This sees Arsenal occupy the 15th place in the table, just five points above the relegation zone.
A course correction is imperative for Arteta and Arsenal this week ahead of a busy period, lest the Spaniard might find himself out of a job just one year after taking over the reins at the club. However, things will be anything but easy for the north Londoners as they go up against a confident Southampton outfit on Wednesday.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men have enjoyed a fine start to the new season that sees them occupy the fourth spot in the table heading into the matchday. The Saints defeated Sheffield United 3-0 last time out, making it five wins in last seven outings (D1 L1) and will be gunning to pick up their first-ever Premier League away victory against Arsenal.
The corresponding fixture last season ended in a 2-2 draw as Alexandre Lacazette scored a double, including a stoppage-time equaliser, after Danny Ings and James Ward-Prowse had netted for Southampton. Ahead of their latest meeting this midweek, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both the teams.
Team News & Tactics
Arsenal will be without the services of Granit Xhaka, who was sent off in the weekend defeat to Burnley, Hector Bellerin is also unavailable after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season last time out. Arteta has no fresh injury concerns, with Thomas Partey being the only player out, while Nicolas Pepe also returns after his three-match ban.
With no win in five consecutive league games, Arteta could decide to make some tough decisions with regards to selection for Wednesday’s game.
Bernd Leno ought to continue in goal, but David Luiz could come in to replace Rob Holding as Gabriel Magalhaes’ partner at the heart of the Gunners defence. With Bellerin out suspended, Ainsley Maitland-Niles should get a start at right-back while Kieran Tierney is a certainty on the left.
With no Xhaka or Partey, Mohamed Elneny should once again start in the middle of the park to shield the backline. Dani Ceballos is in line to partner him and provide the creative essence for Arsenal. Joe Willock, who has been impressing in the Europa League, should get a chance as the No. 10 on Wednesday, while Emile Smith Rowe is also an option.
Bukayo Saka could be given a breather here while the under-performing Willian should drop out of the starting XI as well. The returning Pepe and Eddie Nketiah should take their places in the side, with the former slotting in on the right-wing, while the latter starts as the centre-forward, moving captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to the left.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Leno; Maitland-Niles, Luiz, Gabriel, Tierney; Ceballos, Elneny; Pepe, Willock, Aubameyang; Nketiah
Unlike his Arsenal counterpart, Hasenhuttl has no injury or suspension concerns and has his entire squad available for the trip to London. The manager ought to set his team up in the 4-4-2 formation that he has used extensively this term, with Alex McCarthy guarding the Saints’ goal at the Emirates.
The back-four of Kyle Walker-Peters, Jan Bednarek, Jannik Vestergaard and Ryan Bertrand should remain unchanged for the trip to Arsenal, while there is no looking past the brilliant James Ward-Prowse and Oriol Romeu in the central midfield. The former will pose a huge threat to the Gunners with his top-notch set-piece delivery.
Stuart Armstrong, who found the back of the net against Sheffield United, should get the nod on the right flank, setting up an interesting duel with his compatriot and ex-Celtic teammate Kieran Tierney. Nathan Redmond, who scored after coming off the bench at the weekend, should start on the left, with ex-Arsenal star Theo Walcott dropping to the bench.
Danny Ings and Che Adams have been working brilliantly in tandem at the top and Hasenhuttl is unlikely to tinker with that partnership when he takes his team to north London this week.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): McCarthy; Walker-Peters, Bednarek, Vestergaard, Bertrand; Armstrong, Ward-Prowse, Romeu, Redmond; Adams, Ings
- Full-Time Result – Draw or Southampton @ 1.57
- Southampton to win @ 3.10
- Arsenal are unbeaten in their last 25 home league games against Southampton (W18 D7), since a 0-1 loss in November 1987.
- Southampton are winless in their last 21 Premier League away games played on a Wednesday (D7 L14), since winning 2-0 at Chelsea in April 1995.
- Arsenal have received six Premier League red cards since Mikel Arteta’s first game in charge in December 2019 – double that of any other side in this time.
- Southampton drew this exact fixture with Arsenal 2-2 last season, conceding a 90th-minute equaliser courtesy of Alexandre Lacazette. They have not avoided defeat in consecutive away league games against Arsenal since September 1988.
- Arsenal are unbeaten in all 21 of their Premier League home games against Southampton (W15 D6), the most home games against a team has played against another in the competition without ever losing.
Player to Watch
The last time the Arsenal record signing took the field in a Premier League game, things ended badly for him as a rush of blood against Leeds United saw him get sent off. Pepe’s actions drew a lot of ire from fans, pundits as well as his manager and now that he is back from the three-game suspension, the Ivorian will be out to redeem himself.
Pepe may have been absent in the Premier League for the past three games, but he started each of Arsenal’s final three group games in the Europa League, scoring and assisting one goal apiece in those, thus taking his overall tally for the season to four goals and three assists.
The 25-year-old hasn’t yet been able to quite justify the massive investment Arsenal made in him last year. Given the Gunners’ current situation, a strong run of performances from Pepe could go a long way in sealing his place as a regular member of Arteta’s starting XI.
Arsenal 0-2 Southampton
Arsenal, at the moment, cannot find the back of the net to save their lives. The Gunners are without a win in their last five league games (D1 L4) and have gone goalless in four of these matches, netting just once. They will be up against a Southampton side whose confidence will be sky-high following their recent run of results.
Unlike their opponents, the Saints have been scoring freely and have the joint third-highest goals in the league this term (24). And while Southampton haven’t exactly been airtight at the back, Arsenal’s inability to create meaningful chances could come to haunt them again on Wednesday. The Hard Tackle, thus, predicts a 2-0 win for Southampton.