The first time one does something is really special. And if that something is beating the Special One for the first time, it is even better. Arsene Wenger tasted victory against Jose Mourinho for the first time in his career on Sunday. He would love to bask in the glory of that well fought victory at the Emirates but he and his team are required to travel to St. Mary’s this Wednesday to play one of the fixtures that was postponed due to cup commitments earlier in the season. While Claude Puel will hope for at least a repeat of his side’s gutsy defensive performance at Anfield, Wenger will be hoping that his side continue to win and give themselves a good chance to get back into the top four, it wouldn’t be a surprise at all to see the Gunners rushing over to use the 12bet bonus code and back their team after a good win against the old enemy last Sunday.
Some Liverpool fans were found wondering on social media that why did Southampton, who generally play attractive football, put up such a defensive performance against their side. The answer lies in the seven teams that are separated by three points between Leicester (43 points) in 9th position and Watford (40 points) in 15th position. Saints are currently 10th, just behind the Foxes but a win on Wednesday can see them leap to the 8th position, quite out of reach of 15th placed Watford. The need to win and rise up the table for “safe-from-relegation” teams is generally considered low but because these teams are packed so tightly, if Saints drop too many points, they might find themselves in the middle of the lower half of the Premier League table. This would not only be bad for a team of that stature but also cause a dent in revenue to the tune of £10-12 million, which is what a decent run in Europa League would get them. Add to it the manager’s own reputation and his motivation to win on Wednesday becomes clearer.
For Arsenal, there is no such math involved. Yes, they are also competing for a tightly contested position but the benefits of that position (4th) are much larger. After almost ending Manchester United’s top four dreams, Arsenal still need to win their four remaining fixtures and then hope for Liverpool to drop points in their last two matches. Only then will the Gunners be able to claim the 4th spot. Wenger’s side will certainly not lack in motivation on Wednesday but they might be fatigued after the hard-fought game on Sunday evening. They will also arrive at St. Mary’s with a bad recent away record and a bad away record against Saints. They will have to overcome historic odds to win on Wednesday and after doing exactly against Mourinho, Wenger will be hoping for a repeat performance.
- Saints have failed to win their last four Premier League games and have won just one of their last five at home, scoring just five goals in that run. However, they are unbeaten in their last five home league meetings with Arsenal going back to 2003.
- Southampton are looking to win three consecutive home league matches against Arsenal for the first time since 1985.
- Arsene Wenger’s side have lost five of their last six away Premier League games – the same number they’d lost in their previous 27 on the road in the competition.
- Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has provided seven assists for Arsenal in the Premier League, including two in his last match against Manchester United. This is the same total as his previous five seasons combined with Arsenal.
Saints have struggled to score goals this season and while Gabbiadini gave them hope after his arrival in January, he has run into a barren patch. This is where Redmond might come in handy. His goal scoring record in not really great but he still has the joint-highest number of goals, along with Charlie Austin. He has contributed to 7 goals (scored 6, assisted 1) this season in 2614 minutes, contributing a goal every 373 minutes i.e. very four matches. He has not scored in the last five appearances for the Saints. He also provides pace on the wing, which might trouble Arsenal’s still shaky looking back three.
For Arsenal, Alexis Sanchez is their best player although he has not been firing lately. He drew his third consecutive blank in the win against Manchester United but this mini-barren run could come to an end on Wednesday. Sanchez has contributed 28 goals in 2899 minutes, scoring 19 and assisting 9. He has contributed a goal every 103 minutes, so this run of more than 300 minutes without scoring could end very soon. His guile and pace could be the attributes Arsenal need to overcome a steady and disciplined Southampton defence.
Saints are still without Alex McCarthy, Virgil van Dijk, Matt Targett and Charlie Austin, even though Austin played with the U23s on the weekend. But he might not be deemed fit for the first team and that too in a match against Arsenal. Sofiane Boufal did not make an impact in front of the goal at Anfield and he will make way for Redmond to start this match.
The Gunners will miss Santi Cazorla as he is injured. They will also miss Lucas Perez as he too is still nursing an injury. However, Shkodran Mustafi is now available and should start, perhaps pushing Monreal to left wing-back position. Danny Welbeck, who impressed on Sunday, might be rested as he continues his recovery, to be replaced by Olivier Giroud.
Neither side will lack motivation on Wednesday but Arsenal need a win more. However, the Gunners put in a high-intensity performance on Sunday and might feel slightly fatigued in this match. Their recent record on the road is also pretty poor. Considering this, along with the fact that Claude Puel’s men might pose a far tougher challenge than Middlesbrough – the last side Arsenal beat away, a draw might be the most likely outcome. Arsenal’s attack might find it hard to breach Saints’ defense and the home side do not have an attack who can trouble Arsenal’s defence much.