Arsenal will have come out of last Saturday’s defeat to Manchester United wondering how they managed to lose a game they absolutely dominated.
The Gunners recorded 33 shots, over 600 passes and saw United goalkeeper David de Gea equal a Premier League saves record in the process, but couldn’t finish their chances in what proved to be a freak game.
Sunday’s match against Southampton presents itself as an opportunity to get their league campaign back on track and manager Arsene Wenger believes goals are guaranteed at St Mary’s this weekend.
“There should be goals because they are an offensive team as well, with offensive potential,” Wenger said.
“They have Charlie Austin back now, and of course they have players like Tadic, Redmond, Boufal who are all very strong offensively. They have a good technical level as a team and both sides can create chances so there could be goals there.”
Wenger’s men have already recorded two wins over Southampton at St Mary’s in 2017 and could become the first team to make it three in a calendar year with victory on Sunday.
Shkodran Mustafi has been ruled out of Sunday’s game with a thigh injury but Theo Walcott will be fit despite coming off with a tight calf during Arsenal’s 6-0 thrashing of BATE Borisov on Thursday.
“The only one out at the moment is Mustafi,” confirmed Wenger.
“He is certainly not available for Sunday. There’s a little chance of him coming back for West Ham, but he will not be available for Sunday.”
Spanish midfield maestro Santi Cazorla remains a long-term absentee with an Achilles injury and recently suffered another setback in his recovery which saw him undergo surgery for the ninth time, pushing his return date even further away.
Arsenal have no players suspended for this game.
ARSENAL POTENTIAL STARTING LINE-UP
Wenger is likely to make wholesale changes for the game against Southampton, with Arsenal’s attacking triumvirate of Alexis, Ozil and Lacazette all expected to return up front.
Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey will be the central midfield pairing while Hector Bellerin and Sead Kolasinac will start in the wing-back slots.
Meanwhile, Mustafi’s absence means that one of Per Mertesacker, Calum Chambers or Rob Holding could start in central defence.
BEST OPTA MATCH FACTS
- Southampton have only lost one of their last six home Premier League games against Arsenal (W2 D3), though it was in the last such meeting back in May (0-2).
- Arsenal haven’t won successive away league games against Southampton since August 1997.
- However, Arsenal did win twice at St Mary’s last season, earning a 5-0 victory in an FA Cup fourth round match thanks to a Theo Walcott hat-trick, and a 2-0 win in the Premier League.
- Southampton have never lost three home games in all competitions against a single opponent in a calendar year, while Arsenal last won three away matches against an opponent in a calendar year in 1987 against Spurs (four wins).
- Only two Arsenal players have scored more goals in their first 15 Premier League appearances for the club than Alexandre Lacazette (8) – Alexis Sanchez (9) and Ian Wright (10).
- No Premier League player has made more Premier League appearances without starting a game than Olivier Giroud this season (12, level with Diafra Sakho) – at a single club, only Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Man Utd (17) has more Premier League substitute goals than Giroud does for Arsenal (16), including three this season.
- Arsenal have already recovered as many points from losing positions this season as they managed in the entirety of last season (9) and won more matches from behind this season (3) than last season (2).