Arsenal travel to St. Mary’s Stadium on new year’s day to face a Southampton side who are barring down the relegation zone. With three consecutive wins, suddenly things look different for the Gunners. The last time these two sides met, Arsenal thrashed the Saints 6-1 at the emirates stadium and left a painful mark on their fans who will be hoping to see a better performance from their side. Arsenal are in red hot form and the match against Newcastle proved their attacking powers in front of goal. Arsene Wenger would have been delighted to see his side score four goals in the last 20 minutes of the game. Theo Walcott scored a brilliant hat-trick and Giroud came in as a substitute to score a brace.
Southampton did not have a rosy start to life in the premier league as they won only 1 in the first 9 matches. However, Nigel Adkins and his men have turned the tide and proved their worth since then. Still routed in the relegation zone, it is a long way to go before survival and a point at home facing Arsenal would be the best start to the new year for them.
Arsenal would want to carry on their momentum with another 3 points on the road. Arsene Wenger’s men have scored an impressive 15 goals in the last four matches and will be looking gun down their opponents to start the new year with a bang. Hat-trick hero Theo Walcott and Chamberlian return to St. Mary’s Stadium where it all started for the first time after moving to Arsenal.
A return to St. Mary’s for the former Saints men
There are no fresh injuries for Wenger’s men and the manager may well name an unchanged side who thrashed Newcastle. However, Giroud will be fit to start after making a substitute appearance in the last game. But it is the manger’s decision whether to start the French International or not, mainly because Walcott has been flourishing as a striker off late and with all the transfer sagas circling around the player, he may well not give a chance to upset the player.
Saints are also expected to retain their side who produced an impressive display over Stoke City on their last outing. Adam Lallana has been out for three weeks with a knee injury and the midfielder is not expected to return in time to face Arsene Wenger’s men.
Talking ahead of the match, both the managers looked positive.
Nigel Adkins on a draw at Stoke:
“It’s a great point away from home and the players have gone and demonstrated another side to their game. We do pass the ball about and play, and this was another aspect and mentality. It’s two away games we’re undefeated and there’s a lot of positives to take.”
“My hopes (for the new year) are that the win (over Newcastle) will give even more confidence, desire and ambition to our team, and that 2013 will confirm we are a great team.”
Arsenal have scored six goals twice in their last six meetings with Southampton.
All four of the Saints’ Premier League wins against the Gunners have come on the south coast.
Theo Walcott has scored 10 goals in his last 10 appearances for Arsenal in all competitions. Lukas Podolski has scored (4) or assisted (4) eight goals in his last eight Premier League appearances.
Arsenal have scored 13 goals in their last three Premier League games.
Southampton have lost only two of their last nine Premier League games.
Mikel Arteta is one of only two midfielders/forwards in the Premier League this season to play every minute of every game.
Only Man Utd (16) have taken more points over the past six Premier League games than Arsenal (13).
Jack Wilshere has been booked in two of his last three Premier League appearances.
Each of Southampton’s last five home league games have featured under 2.5 goals.
Southampton: K Davis, Yoshida, Fonte, Hooiveld, Shaw, Puncheon, Schneiderlin, Cork, Do Prado, Rodriguez, Lambert
Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Arteta, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Cazorla, Podolski, Walcott
Soccersouls Prediction: 1-3 win for the traveling side.