With the seemingly unending International break finally over, Southampton after a slow start to the Premier League season travels to the Emirates to face a rejuvenated and a more complete Arsenal side this weekend.
The Saints travel to the Emirates this Saturday on a back of 2 draws and a loss in their first three Premier League campaigns in the 2016/2017 PL season. While Arsenal will be seeking their first home league win of the current campaign which will be boosted by the 3-1 win over Watford before the International break, Southampton will look to start afresh as they drew against Sunderland before the break.
Though the Gooners have only won once in the last six appearances against the Saints, the Saints also have a big mountain to climb as they haven’t beaten Arsenal at home in a Premier League game in 29 years dated back to Nov. 1987. As a matter of fact, the only time they’ve beaten Arsenal at home since that time was the 2-1 League Cup win at the Emirates in September 2014.
Player(s) to Watch
According to the club’s website, Fraser Forster is fit to face Arsenal and this is no doubt a massive boost for the Saints as his masterclass saves last season earned Southampton a point at the Emirates. Also with the sale of highly energetic Wanyama and Saido Mane, a 4-0 scoreline definitely doesn’t come to mind again but the Gooners must be wary of Shane Long who netted a brace in this same fixture at the St. Mary’s last season.
Tactics and Possible line-up
Southampton under manager Claude Puel are still struggling to find their feet and with the quality in the Arsenal team, Puel might want to stack-up his Midfield to contain Arsenal’s high pressing game. Moreso with Florin Gardos, Jeremy Pied, and the club’s record signing Sofiane Boufal all out due to injuries, Puel might likely stick with the team that drew against Sunderland with few changes like Bertrand replacing Targett and also Shane Long coming in for Charlie Austin.
Forster; Soares, Fonte, Van Dijk, Bertrand; Romeu, Hojbjerg, Davis, Tadic, Redmond; Long
Going by Arsenal’s formidable home record against Southampton and a change in atmosphere around the Emirates due to the double signing of Mustafi and Perez, I think Arsenal will have a hard-earned but comfortable win.