Arsenal will be aiming to claim their fourth consecutive Premier League win as they travel to Southampton, who need a result after suffering a significant loss of form over recent weeks.
In general play, the Saints were equal to opponents Tottenham last time out but were denied by a couple of fine saves at one end while some amateurish defending let them down at the other. Manager Ronald Koeman’s assessment was scathing as his side were breached all too easily for the opener while nonexistant marking at the far post led to the second, so the Dutchman will be desperate for them to regain the kind of solidity at the back which was so often praised last season.
Just one point from the last five Premier League games along with a Capital One Cup hammering at the hands of Liverpool makes pretty poor reading for the Saints, who need their front three to start firing again. Graziano Pelle is no longer getting the service that he was able to thrive upon earlier in the campaign while in midfield the loss of Morgan Schneiderlin may just be beginning to be felt as Jordy Clasie and Oriol Romeu attempt to fill his boots.
For a side on such a poor run, Arsenal are hardly the team to face as they are flying at present and now have the belief that they can at last be title winners after their crucial victory over fellow hopefuls Manchester City on Monday. The first half hour passed with little incident until Theo Walcott unleashed a stunning strike, before yet another Mesut Ozil assist set up Olivier Giroud for the second on the stroke of half-time to effectively seal the game.
In times gone by, it has been a question of who out of Walcott and Giroud would be given the nod in the starting XI, but since being given the chance to play together they have made light of the injuries which have befallen other key players. And as Petr Cech attempts again to break the Premier League’s clean sheet record, the Gunners will be determined to ensure that they win here and do not see their fine effort against Man City go to waste.
There are no new injury worries for Southampton, who could have Maarten Stekelenburg back in goal after injury.
The visitors remain without a number of stars, with Alexis Sanchez now poised to be out until mid-January after suffering a setback in his recovery from a hamstring problem.
Last Meeting: Two bad errors from goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny made for an afternoon to forget for Arsenal on New Year’s Day as they slid to defeat at the St. Mary’s Stadium. The first saw the Pole race unnecessarily out of his goal and allow Sadio Mane to curl in an accurate finish from a tight corner, and in the second half he presented the ball to Dusan Tadic, who had a simple finish.
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