On February second, Arsenal welcome Southampton to the Emirates Stadium. Despite a 2-1 win over Burnley over the weekend, the Gunners have been struggling for form recently. Following draws away to Stoke and Liverpool, they suffered a 1-0 home defeat at the hands of rivals Chelsea. After being declared title favourites at the turn of the year, Arsenal have handed the impetus in the title race to Manchester City and will be looking to get back on track against the Saints.
Southampton have been up and down this season. After picking up only one win in 10 games in all competitions, that one win coincidentally being a 4-0 demolition of Arsenal, they have won three straight with wins over Watford, West Brom, and Manchester United. They’ll hope their good form continues and allows them to take down Arsenal.
After being injury riddled for most of the season, Arsenal are only missing two players through injury. Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla are both missing with long term injuries that will keep them out until March.
Southampton are also looking good on the injury front. Florin Gardos is still out for the season with a knee injury and Jay Rodriguez will miss at least another week through his foot injury.
Southampton have not won a Premier League game where they have conceded since their 3-1 win over Chelsea on October 3rd. Prior to the loss to Chelsea, Arsenal had won all of their previous six home games in all competitions. Their loss to Chelsea ended a streak of 12 games straight with a goal at home. Southampton have the third worst goalscoring record away from home with only 10 goals scored, but have the joint second best defensive record with only 11 conceded. Saints new boy Charlie Austin will look to continue his impressive start at Southampton after scoring a goal eight minutes into his debut against Manchester United. The 26 year old scored home and away against Arsenal last season with QPR.
Arsenal: Mesut Ozil
Mesut Ozil is the key player for Arsenal in essentially every game he plays because he makes that potent Arsenal attack go. He’s the creative spark that allows Arsenal to be the team they are and he’s been getting the recognition for that this season. He still leads the league with a ridiculous 16 assists and is creating a chance every 21 minutes he’s on the pitch. After getting a lot of criticism in his first two seasons at the Emirates, Ozil has cemented himself as one of the best players in Europe this year. If Arsenal are able to win their first league title since 2004, he’ll be a big reason why.
Southampton: Victor Wanyama
Southampton will need to stop the Arsenal midfield from playing or else they stand no chance. To complete this difficult task, they’ll need Victor Wanyama to be at the top of his game. The Kenyan will be charged with clogging up the middle of the field. With players like Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez floating around that will always be tough, but he’s proven his worth against Arsenal before. He will need to do it again if they are to stand a chance.
Arsene Wenger’s men will come out knowing they need to win this game to get their Premier League title bid back on track. They’ve struggled against Southampton in the past, but they’ve still managed to win all of their home games against the Saints since their last promotion. With both Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil fit, that should continue.