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Prediction: Arsenal vs Southampton

Verdict: Home win

Best Odds: 17/20

Bookmaker: William Hill

Having finally returned to winning ways, Arsenal will be hoping to edge closer to winning the first trophy of the season, meaning that Arsene Wenger is expected to field a strong side in Wednesday’s encounter. Southampton also ended a poor run at the weekend with a narrow triumph over Everton, but their poor away form is a cause for concern ahead of the trip to the Emirates.

Arsenal

Arsenal are enjoying yet another promising start to the season, but the Gunners are well aware that they have to stay focused throughout the campaign if they want to finally achieve a meaningful result. Arsene Wenger’s charges have so far done well to keep up with Chelsea, Liverpool and Man City in what is likely to prove the most interesting title chase in Premier League history, while their results on other fronts have also been commendable. Arsenal couldn’t record a single win during the difficult fixture list that saw them face Tottenham Hotspur, Man Utd and Paris Saint-Germain, but a 3-1 victory over AFC Bournemouth has helped the players restore some of the lost confidence. Arsene Wenger is widely expected to rest several starters in the EFL Cup clash against Southampton, but he will also want the good run of results to continue, so we are unlikely to see wholesale changes. The Gunners defeated Nottingham Forest and Reading without conceding in their previous two EFL Cup games, and they stand a good chance of making it to the semi-finals, especially if we consider Southampton’s disappointing run of results on the road.

Team News

French striker Olivier Giroud is unlikely to be risked after picking up a hamstring injury, while Mathieu Debuchy is out with the same problem.

Carl Jenkinson is expected to return to the starting line-up, while Damian Martinez, Alex Iwobi and Kieran Gibbs should all start.

Southampton

Bar a very good run of results that stretched from mid September to mid October, Southampton have been quite inconsistent this season, although we cannot say that was such a big surprise. With the new manager coming in and the team also playing in Europa League, it was by no means easy to perform admirably in the Premier League, and the Saints could only pick up 17 points from first 13 fixtures. The narrow win over Everton helped the team remain in mid table, and it also served as a confidence boost following three poor results. The highlight of the game was Charlie Austin’s first minute goal, but talented youngster Joshua Sims also made the headlines, as he impressed on his first senior start, providing assist for said winner. Claude Puel surprised everyone by naming the midfielder among his starters despite the fact that he had never even appeared on the bench in a Premier League fixture, but one of the reasons why the Frenchman was brought to St Mary’s was to try and identify talented youngsters from club’s world-famous youth academy and give them a chance to shine, and he has done brilliantly in that department so far. Just like his counterpart, Puel will be making a number of changes to his starting line-up, which could damage team’s chances of making it to the next stage.

Team News

Star playmaker Dusan Tadic is unlikely to be risked after finally recovering from a broken nose, while Charlie Austin, Virgil van Dijk, Cedric Soares and few more first team regulars will be rested.

Aforementioned Joshua Sims is expected to keep his place, with Sam McQueen, Harrison Reid and Jack Stephens should start.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Arsenal have yet to concede in this year’s EFL Cup
  • The Gunners won four of last six home games vs Saints (D1 L1)
  • Southampton won their previous League Cup game at the Emirates
  • Arsenal are unbeaten in last 19 fixtures (W13 D6)
  • The Gunners won 10 of last 14 home games in League Cup (L4)

Conclusion

While Arsenal’s second-string side will mostly consist of seasoned players with plenty of Premier League experience, the Southampton team will be predominantly featuring talented youngsters from the club’s academy, and that is why we expect the Gunners to secure progress into the next stage.

Verdict: Home win

Best Odds: 17/20

Bookmaker: William Hill

Tue 29 Nov, 2016
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