Friday, September 22, 2017

Prediction: Southampton vs Arsenal

Verdict: Under 2.5 goals

Best Odds: 11/10

Bookmaker: Bet 365

Arsenal will be hoping for another three points towards their faint hopes of Champions League qualification when they travel to Southampton in the Premier League on Wednesday night.

Southampton

It’s been an indifferent season for Southampton, as a disappointing group stage exit from the Europa League was combined with League Cup final heartache against Manchester United. However, their campaign could be considered somewhat successful if they manage to finish in the top eight of the Premier League in manager Claude Puel’s first year in charge of the club. The Saints are currently tenth in the table, but only three points from eighth placed West Bromwich Albion with a game to spare. Their form over the past few games haven’t warranted any guarantees of that happening though, with two losses and two draws, albeit whilst facing the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool. Puel’s main concern would probably be his side’s inability to score many goals, especially at home where they have only netted once more than lowest scorers Middlesbrough. Striker Charlie Austin’s long-term injury since November has been a huge loss and Saints fans will be hoping he can stay fit for the whole of next season and recapture the same form he showed at the start of the year.

Team News

Striker Charlie Austin could return to the squad after recovering from a shoulder injury.

Defender Virgil van Dijk (ankle) and back-up goalkeeper Alex McCarthy remain on the sidelines.

Arsenal

The 2-0 win against Manchester United in the league on Sunday will mean nothing to Arsenal if they don’t beat Southampton. The Gunners are six points off the top-four, and they know they must gain maximum rewards from their last few matches if they are to qualify for the Champions League. It really is win or bust for Wenger’s team but they also need to rely on the teams above them to slip up. Four wins in five games have given the gunners a slight chance again, however if they can get through this fixture and their next one away at Stoke City, they will be optimistic as they end the season with two games at the Emirates against Sunderland and Everton. Arsenal’s record on the road hasn’t been the greatest with only seven wins in 17 matches but their victory on Sunday will have given them renewed confidence that they can gate crash the top-four. Nonetheless, like most games this season, it really does depend if Wenger’s men decide to show up on the day.

Team News

Defender Laurent Koscielny faces a late fitness test with a calf problem.

Granit Xhaka should be fit after limping out of the match against Manchester United, and Lucas Perez is also available following a thigh injury.

Santi Cazorla (Achilles) remains sidelined.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Southampton have failed to win their last four games and have won just one in five at home
  • However, the Saints are unbeaten in their last five meetings at St Mary’s
  • Arsenal have lost five of their last six away games
  • Southampton have failed to score in three of their last four home Premier League matches
  • Puel’s men have managed just 10 shots on target in five games

Conclusion

This may be the end of Arsenal’s top-four hopes. They face a tough Southampton team who have recently kept two clean sheets and will be buoyed by the return of Charlie Austin. The Gunners could still sneak a win but don’t be surprised if there aren’t many goals in this one.

Verdict: Under 2.5 goals

Best Odds: 11/10

Bookmaker: Bet 365

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ashley Randall


Ash is a freelance football writer who lives, breathes and dreams the beautiful game. A lifelong Wolverhampton Wanderers season ticket holder, if he isn't at Molineux then he will be watching any game on television that he can set his eyes on. Producing work for various football websites and publications, Ash has also written for regional newspapers and global magazines.

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