Arsenal look to end their post-lockdown dip in form as they visit Southampton at St Mary’s Stadium.
A home win could move Southampton as high as eleventh whilst Arsenal can possibly climb to ninth with victory, although both scenarios depend on results elsewhere going in their favour.
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Shane Long is expected to be available for Southampton after missing their win over Norwich with a muscle injury.
Moussa Djenepo however misses out as he serves the second of a three match ban after being sent off in the Saints’ final pre-lockdown match against Newcastle.
Arsenal will hand Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Granit Xhaka late fitness tests as the pair look to overcome a respective thigh strain and ankle sprain.
Calum Chambers, Bernd Leno, Gabriel Martinelli (all knee) and Pablo Mari (ankle) are all ruled out, although David Luiz (suspension), Cedric Soares (facial) and Lucas Torreira (ankle) could all return within the next fortnight.
- Southampton are unbeaten in three of their last five matches against Arsenal (W1, D2, L2).
- Arsenal have won just one of their last five league trips to St Mary’s Stadium (W1, D1, L3).
- Only one of last 26 goals in this fixture has come from a defender in all competitions, courtesy of Ryan Bertrand in Southampton’s 2-0 League Cup win at Emirates in November 2016..
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is the only Arsenal player to have scored more than one headed league goal this season, having produced three headed goals in 28 appearances.
- No Southampton player has lost more aerial battles this season than Shane Long, who lost 104 aerial battles in 19 league appearances.
This is a must-win for Southampton because if they can pick up a win here then they surely could be on for a late charge for the Europa League spots, especially if can show same control and varied play which got them a win at Norwich last Friday.
Arsenal’s Project Restart meanwhile just lurches from bad to worse with another defeat and more injuries, which is the last thing that Mikel Arteta needed as he also has one eye on Sunday’s FA Cup Quarter-Final at Sheffield United to come.
The Gunners therefore have to start well here and score first because the longer this stays goalless and Southampton grow in confidence, the more that I feel that the Saints will be able to break Arsenal down and get that second consecutive win.
Prediction: Southampton 2-1 Arsenal
Result: Southampton 0-2 Arsenal