Southampton vs Arsenal: Preview and Prediction


Southampton vs Arsenal. With a full slate of Premier Soccer on hand, the game of the week looks to be a battle of the top five. Southampton will be hoping to continue their recent good run when they host Arsene Wenger and his Arsenal side on New Year’s Day.

The Saints look to have regained their early season form, defeating Everton and Crystal Palace before drawing with Chelsea at home. The side fought a respectable battle during the second half of the match. As Chelsea pummeled the Saints defense with chance after chance, it bent, but did not break — even after going down a man, when Morgan Schneiderlin received his second yellow late in the match.

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However, Southampton should be buoyed by the return of young midfielder James Ward-Prowse. The 20-year-old English midfielder featured in all of Southampton’s matches early in the season before missing over three months with a broken foot. The squad will also be looking to Dušan Tadić to continue his form as he returns from injury. Don’t expect either of them to go a full ninety, but both should help the squad in the attack.

Arsenal come into the match having jumped into the top five following their victory at West Ham. The North London side will look to continue their current run, going unbeaten in their last four matches. Arsenal will be short a man, having lost Olivier Giroud to suspension for three games, as a result of his red card against QPR last week. With the defense Southampton has shown this season, losing a player like Giroud could hurt the Gunner’s chances.

Arsene Wenger will be looking to Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck to carry the team. However, the formation of the squad is still up in the air. Should Arsenal continue with their three-forward attack, someone will need to fill the space opened by Giroud. Wenger may however opt to add an additional midfielder, going with a two striker approach.

Key Stats

  • In the 31 Premier League matches between the sides, Southampton have only won four times, the last being a 3-2 home win in 2002.
  • Arsenal have scored at least two goals in more than half their matches.
  • Southampton have eight shut-outs, second most in this season.

Players to Watch

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Southampton will look for Captain Jose Fonte to lead the squad. With Arsenal scoring at a very high rate this season, it will be the defense’s responsibility to limit Arsenal’s chances. With the leadership of Fonte, Southampton should be able to do just that.

The last time these sides met, Southampton did well, defending brilliantly. A late injury brought the Saints down to ten men, allowing Arsenal to score a late goal, taking the win and three points. If Jose Fonte can get his fellow defenders to replicate that performance at home, there should be no reason why Southampton cannot win this match.

The Gunners will be looking to Alexis Sanchez to lead the way. Creating chances and scoring goals is what the Chilean does best, but down a man, Arsenal will need him to have a special game. Breaking down the solid Southampton back line is a tough task for any player, but one that Sanchez must accomplish if Arsenal want to break into the top four.

Danny Welbeck will also be key for Arsenal. With Sanchez creating chances, it will be up to the English international to convert. If Sanchez and Welbeck are in sync, there will be little that the South Coast side can do to stop them.

For both sides, a win would put them safely into the top four. A win for Southampton would boost the supporter’s belief of an unlikely top four finish. For Arsenal, the battle is even more important. The supporters, board and everyone watching expect a top four finish. Should they fail to secure that this season, it could spell the end of an era for Arsene Wenger.


Southampton – 1, Arsenal – 1