Southampton host Arsenal for the second time in four days having knocked the Gunners out of the FA Cup on Saturday. These sides also met in the reverse Premier League fixture last month so there may be some needle and over familiarity between these two sides. Mikel Arteta will be hoping to continue his side’s revival against a Southampton side with just one win in six in the league.
Having ended 2020 with a four match winless run and just one goal scored, Southampton are back in good shape. A fine 1-0 win against Liverpool ended that streak with Danny Ings on target before a 2-0 loss at Leicester after playing well in the first half.
They then beat Shrewsbury Town 2-0 in an FA Cup replay with a much-changed lineup before a 1-0 FA Cup victory over Arsenal with their best available XI. However, their recent cup results mask the fact that they’ve only won one of their last six Premier League matches, scoring just two goals.
Southampton Team News
Jannik Vestergaard is still missing at centre back for Southampton so Jack Stephens will continue to deputise. Oriol Romeu is nearing a return in central midfield and will hope to be fit but Alex McCarthy may again miss out in goal after testing positive for COVID-19.
Two options on the flanks are both expected to be missing in Nathan Redmond and Moussa Djenepo. Southampton should been able to field a very strong starting lineup but their bench will be largely made up of kids (and Shane Long).
Southampton will play to win this match. Hasenhuttl’s side have been focusing on being solid at the back in recent matches with so many attacking options missing and they may again look to be compact and start their pressing line a little deeper in this match.
A draw would not be a disaster but would not be celebrated and it’s unlikely that Southampton will settle for one. Their lack of attacking options on the bench means that they will focus on scoring the first goal as they are not well equipped to chase matches right now.
Despite Arsenal’s 1-0 FA Cup defeat to Southampton on Saturday – with a strong side and only four or five starters rested – they are in high confidence in the Premier League. Their awful streak with one win in 10 has been put to bed with four wins and a draw in the last five. That run has also seen four clean sheets.
A 3-1 win against Chelsea stopped the rot before a 1-0 win at Brighton, a 4-0 win at West Brom and then a 0-0 draw at home with Crystal Palace. Their last league match saw a comfortable 3-0 win over Newcastle as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang returned to form with a brace and teenager Bukayo Saka got the other.
Arsenal Team News
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missed the FA Cup defeat to Southampton with a knock and Arteta has said he isn’t sure if he will return. Gabriel Martinelli would likely cover in that case as Nicolas Pepe and Willian are in dire form.
Pablo Mari is still missing at centre back so David Luiz should partner Rob Holding in preference to Gabriel. Dani Ceballos has a tight calf but Thomas Partey will start after being on the bench in the cup.
Arsenal will play to win this match but this is a very tough match and a draw would arguably be a pretty good result as it keeps their unbeaten run going. Arteta’s side are only two points behind Southampton and can leapfrog them with a win.
If Aubameyang is out then Arsenal may be more focused on defending solidly and playing on the break as their options to turn the match from the bench would only be out of form players like Eddie Nketiah, Pepe and Willian.
Having rested some players in the FA Cup, Arteta is clearly prioritising this match as being more important.
Liverpool will play to win but as in recent draws, they can’t play a very open game without Van Dijk to cut off opposition counter-attacks so they’ve been more careful in how they chase matches. A more patient approach with an extra man kept behind the ball is expected.
Southampton have won 1 of their last 6 PL matches
Saints have scored just 2 goals in their last 6 PL matches
Southampton have seen under 2.5 goals in their last 6 PL matches
Saints have lost 2 of their last 5 home PL matches
Arsenal have won 4 of their last 5 PL matches
Arsenal have kept 4 PL clean sheets in a row
The last 3 meetings between these sides have seen under 2.5 goals
Southampton have enough to take a point off Liverpool if they play well, whilst a narrow Liverpool win could also be a decent tip.