Seasonal struggles at St Mary's
Matches at Southampton have been tough for the Gunners historically, with boxing day agony losing 4-0 to Saints in December of 2015 and more recently being dumped out of the Emirates FA Cup thanks to a Gabriel own goal in January of 2021. These are just a few to mention as the Saints are always up for this particular tie in SO14
Arsenal have eight chances at three points between now and the end of the campaign, still to play Chelsea, Manchester United and deadly north London rivals and current occupiers of that fourth spot, Tottenham Hotspur.
If Mikel Arteta wants that fourth spot, there is simply no room for error now or they will find themselves in the mix for Europa League qualification and short of their goal to finish in England’s top four.
Southampton's poor form
Southampton haven’t exactly been high flying these past months. Having impressed earlier in the season with some fantastic results, they have struggled in recent weeks, with no win in their last five and in 14th place. Speaking to Hampshire Live, Saints manager Hasenhuttl said that his side needed to show a much different attitude to last time out in the league when they fell to defeat, losing 6-0 to Chelsea at home.
“We have the next strong opponent coming to us on Saturday and hopefully we show a different face. You need good performances, outstanding performances in some moments, to win games in the Premier League and we have shown this in the past, but we have to show it again now against a very good opponent because it will be a tough game."
One man who will be looking to make a mark on Saturday’s game is Chelsea Loanee Armando Broja. He watched on the side lines as his parent club thrashed Saints 6-0 last week. He will be keen to stamp his authority on this upcoming game in an attempt to get his side back on track to have a strong end to the season.
Broja has scored nine goals in all competitions this campaign, having started 32 games, three more goals than Arsenal’s striker Alex Lacazette who has managed six in 31 appearances.
Despite Lacazette’s lack of goal’s, he has still remained a nuisance to opposition defences, having resisted eight assists in all competitions.
Some fans do however want the frenchman to be removed from the side, with Eddie Nketiah having caught the eye off the bench at various points this year.
Change in system?
Arteta has many options regarding his team line up this coming Saturday and, could try something fresh to get back to winning ways.
Many sides have experimented with a false nine over the past few years, with Manchester City and Chelsea some of the teams to pull it off effectively. Arsenal could deploy the likes of Emile Smith-Rowe or Nicholas Pepe up front, giving them an opportunity to create and give Arsenal’s wide men more chances at goal.
Alternatively, Eddie Nketiah could be brought into the side, who hasn’t started a single Premier League game this season. Nketiah has impressed in cameos off the bench, with some fans calling for him to start ahead of the current Arsenal Captain. Nketiah remains England U21's all time leading goalscorer and scored 24 goals in each of his first two seasons at Arsenal's academy.
Injury concerns ahead of race for top four
Arsenal are set to spend the rest of the season without left back Kieran Tierney and, look to be without Thomas Partey for a number of weeks as the Gunner's medical team are not putting a timestamp on the Ghanaian’s return. Takehiro Tomiyasu will also not be back until mid April. The current squad will be tested like never before in the final eight games of the campaign as they hunt down a top four finish.
Arsenal Vavel will provide extensive coverage of this run in.