For the second time in three seasons, Arsenal face a New Year’s Day trip to Southampton, and on this occasion they will be aiming to move above them and into fourth place.
The Saints will be optimistic ahead of fixture after taking seven points from the last nine available, including a draw with leaders Chelsea in a spirited and resilient display last time out and restricted Jose Mourinho’s men to just a single attempt on target.
However, they could be left to rue the knock-on effects of Morgan Schneiderlin’s late dismissal, as his presence in midfield could be sorely missed against the side that has heavily been linked with a move for him in recent months, although their creativity could cause Arsenal their fair share of problems.
One gets the feeling that Arsenal are now beginning to raise their game after a largely disjointed first half of the campaign, as they have now won three of their last four Premier League games and impressively overcame the challenge of West Ham United on Sunday.
It was a victory which required a lot of defensive solidity, and although they occasionally rode their luck, the Gunners passed the test and also produced a fine attacking performance, with only terrific goalkeeping preventing them from gaining a higher winning margin.
Joining Schneiderlin in missing out for Southampton are Nathaniel Clyne; Jay Rodriguez; Jack Cork and Emmanuel Mayuka, who has joined the Zambia squad ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations.
Arsenal are still without suspended striker Olivier Giroud, and are likely to also be without Danny Welbeck due to a thigh injury. Mikel Arteta, Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere are among the other players out.
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