Arsenal will be eager to get a measure of quick revenge on Southampton when the two sides face off for a second time in four days at St. Mary’s on Tuesday.
The 2020/21 Premier League season moves into its second half, with Gameweek 20 set to begin on Tuesday. The day’s proceedings will culminate at St. Mary’s Stadium, where Southampton will play hosts to Arsenal, with both sides in desperate need of a win, for different reasons.
Southampton have continued their success story under the tutelage of Ralph Hasenhuttl, who just continues to take his side from strength to strength. The Saints are harbouring dreams of a top-half finish, although they have managed to win just one of their last six Premier League outings. Having said that, the hosts will be buoyed by their narrow win over Arsenal just a few days ago in the FA Cup.
Arsenal, on the other hand, have endured a difficult 2020/21 campaign so far and are a place and 2 points below Southampton after the first half of the Premier League season. The Gunners, though, are unbeaten in their last five top-flight outings, which has helped them climb up the table. But, their most recent fixture was the shock defeat to their opponents on Tuesday last weekend.
Southampton and Arsenal have battled each other twice this season, with the reverse fixture in the league ending in a 1-1 draw while the Saints eked out a narrow 1-0 win in the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Ralph Hasenhuttl has greeted a mixed bag of updates on the team news front ahead of the visit of Arsenal. On Saturday, the Southampton manager will have to make do without as many as nine first-team players.
Kyle Walker-Peters is the latest player to be sidelined after sustaining a thigh injury that has ruled him out of Tuesday’s game. Apart from the English full-back, Southampton will also be missing the likes of Jannik Vestergaard, Mohamed Salisu, Oriol Romeu, Moussa Djenepo, Will Smallbone, Nathan Tella and Michael Obafemi against Arsenal.
In addition, Ryan Bertrand, who has recently been linked with a move to Arsenal, is suspended after picking up his fifth booking of the season last time out in the Premier League against Leicester City. However, Nathan Redmond could be on the bench after recovering from a muscle injury.
With Redmond unlikely to start, though, Stuart Armstrong and former Arsenal star Theo Walcott will be the two wide midfielders for Southampton. The duo will look to veer infield, with Walcott, in particular, aiming to be direct in his approach higher up the pitch.
Danny Ings and Che Adams will form the strike partnership for the hosts, and will majorly feed off of the deliveries from the flanks. Most of these crosses will be supplied by the two full-backs, with Yan Valery and Jake Vokins filling in for the unavailable Walker-Peters and Bertrand.
The spine of the side will hold the key for Southampton, with James Ward-Prowse looking to pull the strings whenever afforded the opportunity while the likes of Ibrahima Diallo, Jan Bednarek and Jack Stephens, who is set to make his 100th Premier League appearances, will remain firmly behind the ball in order to absorb the pressure that Arsenal will be aiming to create.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): McCarthy; Valery, Bednarek, Stephens, Vokins; Walcott, Diallo, Ward-Prowse, Armstrong; Adams, Ings
Unlike his counterpart in the Southampton dugout, Mikel Arteta does not have any fresh injury issues hampering his preparations ahead of another trip to St. Mary’s Stadium. However, on Tuesday, the Arsenal manager could be bereft of the services of as many as three first-team players.
The major absentee for the visitors will be Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who will be forced to miss out yet again due to the personal issues that meant he was unavailable against Southampton on the weekend as well. Apart from the Arsenal captain, Pablo Mari is unavailable as well, while Dani Ceballos’ participation is touch and go.
In addition, with Martin Odegaard’s loan move still not over the line, it is likely that the Norwegian will only be available on the weekend at the earliest. That means that Emile Smith Rowe picks himself in the slot behind the central striker, from where he will provide the creative impetus for Arsenal.
Smith Rowe will receive creative support from Bukayo Saka, who will start on the right flank with Gabriel Martinelli – expected to feature on the left-wing – looking to be more direct in his approach. Alexandre Lacazette will lead the line for Arsenal against Southampton, with Eddie Nketiah being the backup option.
In midfield, Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey will form the double pivot, with the duo looking to add steel in the middle of the park. The two midfielders will provide cover to the two centre-backs – Rob Holding and David Luiz, while Kieran Tierney and Hector Bellerin will carry a threat with their deliveries higher up the pitch. In goal, there is no looking past Bernd Leno.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Leno; Bellerin, Holding, Luiz, Tierney; Xhaka, Partey; Saka, Smith Rowe, Martinelli; Lacazette
1. Full-Time Result – Southampton or Draw @ 1.57
1. Southampton to win @ 3.25
- Southampton have only won one of their last 10 Premier League meetings with Arsenal (D4 L5). However, all seven of the Saints’ wins over Arsenal in the competition have come at St. Mary’s Stadium.
- Arsenal have won four of their last five Premier League games, conceding just once. In fact, the defeat to Southampton last weekend was a first in seven matches in all competitions and saw them concede a goal for the first time in eight hours and 28 minutes.
- Southampton have only won one of their last six Premier League matches (D3 L2). In these fixtures, they have managed to find the back of the net just twice.
- Only Aston Villa and Manchester City have conceded fewer away league goals than Arsenal’s eight this season. However, the Gunners’ tally of 23 league goals is the lowest they have had at the halfway stage of a Premier League season since 1998/99.
- Just three teams have earned more points at home in the Premier League this season than Southampton’s 16. In addition, the Saints’ tally of six home league clean sheets this term is as many as the last two top-flight campaigns combined.
Player to Watch
So far, 2020/21 has been a season of frustration for Gabriel Martinelli. The Brazilian forward made a belated start to the campaign after recovering from a long-term injury and has since been slow to settle into the thick of the action. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s absence, though, provides him with an opportunity.
Martinelli is one player who can provide the X-Factor in this Arsenal side with his directness. So, while Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe remain the men under the spotlight once again, it is the young Brazilian who will have the onus on him to make the difference, especially following the vote of confidence from Mikel Arteta. A big game for Martinelli.
Southampton 0-1 Arsenal
This is one of those games that is unlikely to have a lot of goalmouth action. The goals have dried up lately for Southampton while Arsenal have not exactly been prolific this season either. On top of that, the Gunners boast a fine defensive record on the road this season in the Premier League, meaning the game is likely to be played out in the middle of the park.
To make matters more concerning for Southampton, Ralph Hasenhuttl is down to his bare-bones in terms of squad selection, meaning fatigue could play a part. In the end, the likes of Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli should combine to make a telling impact, paving the way for a third successive away Premier League win without conceding a goal. We predict a 1-0 win for Mikel Arteta & co.