Premier League Preview: Southampton vs. Arsenal
Seven points in three games from the hectic Christmas schedule is not to be sniffed at regardless of how those points came to be earned.
Arsenal play Southampton away on New Year’s Day hoping to finish their frenetic run of 4 games in 11 days with 10 points out of 12 from the festive fixtures.
Despite numerous poor results for Arsenal this season so far they have reached the half-way point with just goal difference separating them from the top four and the first game of the second half of the season is against the team marginally ahead of us.
Southampton have proved tricky opposition for Arsenal for a couple of years now and despite sustaining heavy losses in the summer they ultimately have seemed to improve from last season. Arsenal won out in December thanks to a late goal from Alexis that will remain forever imprinted in my mind because I still suffer from the whiplash I received when my friend Jokman (of Goonersphere.com and Goonersphere Podcast fame) leapt like a salmon to grab hold of me and then hung from my neck like a randy sloth as he gyrated in ecstasy at our late fortune.
That game saw Southampton line up without their defensive midfield stalwart and reported Arsenal target – Morgan Schneiderlin – and it can be argued that his absence favoured Arsenal on their home patch.
Schneiderlin will miss this match also having received a red card against Chelsea and whilst this will be of some benefit to Arsenal they no longer have home advantage.
Should Arsenal win this game they will be in the top four and the safe money is on them staying there – or so at least history suggests.
Arsenal from; Szczesny, Martinez, Debuchy, Chambers, Gibbs, Monreal Mertesacker, Koscielny, Bellerin, Coquelin, Flamini, Podolski, Chamberlain, Rosicky, Alexis, Cazorla, Sanogo, Welbeck and Campbell.
Szczesny, Debuchy, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Chamberlain, Flamini, Coquelin, Cazorla, Welbeck, Alexis
I expect to see substitute appearances from Monreal, Rosicky and Podolski
“I think again we had a great spirit, great consistency and that was despite the fact that we had many injuries in 2014/15. We are still in a position that allows us to have hope for the end of the season.” – Arsène Wenger
Last 3 Meetings
- Arsenal 1-0 Southampton (03.12.2014)
- Arsenal 1-2 Southampton (23.09.2014)
- Southampton 2-2 Arsenal (28.01.2014)
Arsenal Last 5
Southampton Last 5
Southampton boast the second best defensive record in the league and have held their own against top 6 opposition this season. The loss of Morgan Schneiderlin to suspension will affect them but to what degree depends entirely on what Arsenal turns up.
Tadic, Pelle and Mane all have the ability to hurt any opposition on their day and Southampton will look to utilise them all on the counter should Arsenal gain control of match. Southampton are a dangerous opposition and should not be underestimated.
- The two clubs first clashed on 26.12.1966—a 4-1 win to Arsenal.
- Arsenal have drawn away to Southampton three times in a row.
- Arsenal are undefeated in 11 of 12 matches against Southampton in all competitions.
Welbeck will be in fine spirits after the West Ham match and should he prove himself fit I fancy him to score again. Alexis is showing a burst of fresh energy having looked lethargic in the run up to Christmas and sadly Arsenal cannot afford to rest him much at the moment. Cazorla is back to his best and pulling strings all over the shop so expect him to be in the thick of it again.
2-0 to Arsenal with Alexis and Welbeck scoring.