[Preview] Southampton vs Arsenal: Gunners hope to go top


Good Afternoon Gooners!

On a weekend that will see the other leagues across Europe shut, all eyes will be on the boxing day fixtures in the Premier League. Arsenal’s boxing day fixture has been scheduled with a trip to Southampton this season.

Arsenal go into this fixture with their minds set on a victory, for if they were to win this one, they would go top of the table, provided Leicester city lose their fixture against Liverpool, as that would take Arsenal on top and one point ahead of the foxes. Additionally, a victory over the saints could eventually take Arsenal on top of the table, even if Leicester pick up a draw against Liverpool.

Given the centrality of Leicester’s game against Liverpool to Arsenal’s place on the table, Arsenal fans round the globe will find themselves rooting for a Liverpool win, in spite of having utmost respect and admiration for what Leicester have achieved this season.

Match facts and Stats

Visitors Arsenal go into this game in high spirits, having won 4 games in a row in the premier league and Europe combined; including a massive victory over title contenders Manchester City.  The Gunners have picked up most away points (38) in 2015, and also, hold one of the best win records this year. Mesut Ozil has been in mesmerizing form, and currently leads the table in assists (15 assists in 16 games). Olivier Giroud has scored 10 times in the last 12 matches, including 5 in 6 away games.

Southampton, on the other hand, have not enjoyed their last year’s form, witnessing their worst form since December 2014; after not winning in 5 PL matches. The Saints, have picked up 18 points of a possible 24 from teams below them in the table, but only 3 from a possible 27 from teams above them. However, as their fixtures against the Gunners so far are examined, the Saints have lost only 1 of their last 6 home meetings with Arsenal.

Expectations from the Game

Given Southampton’s strengths at home, Arsenal will likely remain cautious and on the back foot with regard to this fixture, for the Gunners have won only once at St. Mary’s. At a time when several teams are vary of relegation, Southampton will do everything in their power to win this game, and can be expected to play an attacking game. For the home side, Sadio Mane will be an important player, who has in the past done immense damage with his pace in the last third. On the other hand, it can be expected that the home side must have an elaborate plan for containing Arsenal’s main man Mesut Ozil, who is likely to be a headache for Victor Wanyama and central defenders Jose Fonte and Virgil Van Dijk.

Overall, one can expect various midfield battles and several openings on the offensive front (especially for the Gunners). Lastly, one can predict that Arsenal will defend deep and try to score on counters, given the quality up front that Southampton have.

Can Arsenal go top?

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