Arsenal have been extremely frustrating this season and their limp exit from the FA cup at the hands of Southampton came as yet another disappointment in what is rapidly becoming a mediocre season.
Arsenal owe the fans a performance and one would expect all the big guns to be back in the side including Saka, Smith Rowe, Partey, Tierney, Lacazette and Aubameyang, for a contest that has suddenly assumed greater significance.
The gunners were outplayed and deserved to lose the previous game and Southampton now have a distinct advantage having beaten Arsenal already, but surely this will be an entirely different proposition with Arteta’s side still smarting from the loss four days ago.
Arsenal have to hit the ground running, lay down a marker and not allow the Saints breathing space or afford them the opportunity to get their own game going.
The North London side will have to work the flanks and push Southampton back because they will no doubt press high and limit the space, so a lot will depend on the combined appetite and performances of Saka, Bellerin, Tierney and possibly Martinelli. who is due for a big game.
It’s really important to focus on Arsenal rather than their opponents in this blog because we already know where the threats are going to come from.
The gunners need to embrace their natural assets at St Mary’s which are based on speed, movement and service.
If Arsenal can get that right then they’ll win this match 3-1 but there’s no room for indecision or fluffy passing.
There’s no points available for lack of ambition by employing a negative and sterile series of sideways snd backwards passes.
The visitors have to force the game and the pace by attacking on all fronts in the hope of overwhelming their hosts.
A win will move Arsenal above Southampton into 8th in the premier league table, but more importantly it moves them to 4 points from the 4th slot and only 8 points behind the current leaders.
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Southampton vs Arsenal Stats :
Courtesy of Opta.com
* Southampton have won one of their last 10 Premier League matches against Arsenal (D4 L5), a 3-2 home win in December 2018.
* Arsenal are looking to record back-to-back away Premier League wins against Southampton for the first time since winning in March and August 1997 under Arsene Wenger.
* All seven of Southampton’s wins against Arsenal in the Premier League have been at home, with only Fulham vs Everton (9) winning more games against an opponent with all wins coming at home in the Premier League.
* Arsenal are looking to win three consecutive away Premier League games for the first time since October 2018, while they last did so without conceding back in May 2013.
* Southampton have kept six home Premier League clean sheets this season, as many as they did in 2018/19 and 2019/20 combined; the Saints last kept more at St. Mary’s in 2016/17 (8)
* Following a run of seven league games without a win in November/December, Arsenal have won four of their last five (D1), shipping just one goal in that run.
* After a run of scoring in 12 consecutive Premier League games, Southampton have failed to score in four of their last five in the competition. Saints are looking to avoid consecutive Premier League defeats for the first time since their opening two games of this campaign.
* Arsenal have kept four consecutive clean sheets in the Premier League, last keeping five in a row in the competition back in January 2006.
* Southampton’s Theo Walcott scored in their 1-1 draw vs Arsenal earlier this season – the only three players to score home and away against the Gunners in a Premier League season having previously played for them in the competition are Kevin Campbell (2000/01), Nicolas Anelka (2002/03 & 2006/07) and Robin van Persie (2012/13).
* Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored twice in Arsenal’s last league game against Newcastle, as many as he’d netted in his previous 15 Premier League games. The Gabonese striker has scored more Premier League braces without ever netting a hat-trick in the competition’s history (13).
The team virtually picks itself for me and no disrespect to Rob Holding but he flounders against fast counters and Mari ( if fit ) might be the better option purely for his positional awareness.
My preferred side :
Bellerin, Mari, Gabriel, Tierney (if fit)
Smith Rowe, Saka, Aubameyang/Lacazette,