Southampton Vs Arsenal Preview by AH
Arsenal will travel to face Southampton at St Mary’s in what should be a tight game, despite the Saints sitting in the relegation zone. Arsenal will look to kick off the New Year in style and continue to push up the table with 5 consecutive wins.
We were enthralled by the win on Saturday to signify the last game at the Emirates in 2012. Newcastle were always going to be tough opponents and it looked like we were going to throw away all 3 points on several occasions with the Magpies continuing to push, however their midweek game against Manchester United meant that by the 70th minute they were lacking in both mental and physical strength, allowing Arsenal to run riot and fire 4 past Tim Krul in the last 20 minutes and win the game 7-3.
Back to Southampton, and Arsenal will be confident going into this game, not just because of recent results but also because we have already fired 6 past our opponents, in the reverse fixture at the Emirates this season.
There are no fresh injury concerns, but The Gunners could welcome Per Mertesacker and Tomas Rosicky back to the squad that will travel to St Marys, whilst Andre Santos, Abou Diaby are expected to re-join training this week.
Southampton have slightly worse injury concerns with the Saints likely to be without club captain Adam Lallana. One player who is likely to return to the side is Uruguayan playmaker Gaston Ramirez, who has proved to be very effective for Southampton, growing into a key player for the club. Another player Arsenal need to be wary of is the ever present threat of Ricky Lambert who will look to pounce and punish the Arsenal defence.
Former Southampton players Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are expected to start, with Wenger set to name the same side that played on Saturday. The full team is expected to be;
Sagna Koscienly Vermaelen Gibbs
Oxlade-Chamberlain Walcott Podolski
Giroud deserves a place in the starting line-up, however it’s unlikely that Wenger will change a winning team that is full of confidence and on form so the Frenchman is once again expected to feature as a substitute.
One player who we should look out for is Southampton left back Luke Shaw; the 17 year old is a reported target for Arsenal, with the club looking to sell off Andre Santos.
I think this should be a fairly comfortable game, however it won’t be easy and we cannot lose concentration. St Mary’s is a tough place to go, as Manchester United found out a few weeks back. Providing we are up for the game and don’t underestimate our opponents I think we will run out as 3-1 winners.
It’s been a year of ups and downs for Arsenal, but never the less, we are still going strong and hopefully we can build on our current position, add some quality to the squad and get back into the top 4. I hope you’ve all had a good 2012, I wish everyone a happy new year and all the best for 2013. Come On You Gunners!