Southampton vs Arsenal
Barclays Premier League
St. Mary’s Stadium
Kick off: January 28, 2014 7:45 PM GMT
This game-week the Gunners are away to a solid Southampton side and will want to come away with all three points to keep the pressure on both Chelsea and Manchester City, who play out their respective matches on Wednesday. A lot of critics are expecting Arsenal to falter during the run-in, particularly with the Chavs and City beginning to hit their strides, but we are all hoping that the Gunners can keep defying predictions for a while longer.
Looking at the team, Wenger has revealed some promising news with Ramsey, Arteta and Vermaelen all back and available for selection. Unfortunately, however, he also revealed that Jack Wilshere may be unavailable after frustratingly picking up another ankle injury from the FA Cup clash against Coventry. In saying that, Wenger does have some options in central midfield with either the Ox being able to reprise his role in the middle or Ramsey slotting straight back into the starting line-up if Wilshere comes up short.
The other notable selection dilemma Wenger has is what to do with Podolski. In the most recent Premier League matches the Frenchman has leaned towards picking Gnabry and Cazorla on the flanks, but Podolski did very well to remind us that he is still hungry for a regular starting spot after bagging a brace against the Sky Blues at the weekend. For me, Poldi looks like the likely the contender for a starting spot with Cazorla on the right.
While Arsenal have consistently remained at the top of the table, or at least thereabouts, Southampton have endured a bit of a slump after succumbing to the Gunners back in November. The Saints were sitting pretty and were even as high as fourth at one stage, but the 2-0 loss at the Emirates seemed to be the catalyst for a dry spell for Southampton who lost eight of their following nine matches.
Despite dropping down the table, the Saints should still prove to be a formidable opponent and boast a strong attack with Lallana, Rodriguez and Lambert all possible dangermen. The possible return of beasty midfielder Victor Wanyama should also shore up the team in terms of defence, particularly with Dejan Lovren absent at the back. Pochettino has stated that the Saints will go for the win against us and he does have some good assets to try and do that.
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I am probably going to say this every week, but again it is a must-win for the Gunners. A victory would put some pressure on our trailing rivals and may offer some breathing space if City or Chelsea drop some points. It is important Arsenal maintain concentration for the full 90 minutes and avoid slipping into cruise control, much like we did against Coventry at the start of the second half. Form is on our side, but we still need a good performance on the day to beat a good Southampton side. COYG!
Arsenal: Walcott (knee), Rosicky (nose), Jack Wilshere (ankle)
Southampton: Osvaldo (suspended), Lovren (ankle), Ramirez (ankle)
|ARSENAL – WWWWW||SOUTHAMPTON – WDWWL|
|Arsenal 4 – Coventry 0||FA||Southampton 2 – Yeovil 0||FA|
|Arsenal 2 – Fulham 0||EPL||Sunderland 2 – Southampton 2||EPL|
|Aston Villa 1 – Arsenal FC 2||EPL||Southampton 1 – West Brom 0||EPL|
|Arsenal FC 2 – Tottenham 0||FA||Southampton 4 – Burnley 3||FA|
|Arsenal FC 2 – Cardiff 0||EPL||Southampton 0 – Chelsea FC 3||EPL|
Sagna Mertesacker (c) Koscielny Gibbs
Southampton 1 Arsenal 2