Can Southampton Stop Sanchez and co. From Scoring?

Last updated: September 9, 2016 by Leon Marshal

Game details

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Kick-off: Saturday, 3pm
Venue: Emirates
Coverage: Sky Sports 1
Home form: LDW
Away form: DLD
Last season: Arsenal 0 – 0 Southampton
Competition: The Premier League

It’s safe to say that both these teams haven’t made exactly the sort of start to the season that they would have expected. Arsenal’s loss to Liverpool on the opening day of the season has been somewhat amended, as they followed with a goalless draw at champions Leicester, and convincingly beat Watford two weeks ago. For Southampton, things have started badly and haven’t gotten much better. The club are used to seeing a new manager coming in and players going out over the summer break, but have so far successfully weathered these changes. There are fears that this time, the changes might be too great. While there is certainly talent in the squad, currently, things aren’t quite clicking at Saint Mary’s.

After a slow start, Arsenal found their rhythm with a 3-1 win against Watford a fortnight ago. Goals from Alexis Sanchez, Cazorla and Özil all but assured the victory by half time. The injury problems that Arsene Wenger faced are alleviated, with a host of Euro 2016 players returning and the signings of Mustafi and Perez bolstering defensive and attacking options respectively. The result is multiple options for each position, with the biggest decision for the manager being whether to continue with Sanchez as a striker, or utilise Giroud or Perez up front, with Sanchez lining up behind. Either way, there would seem to be little standing in the way of the Gunners earning their first home victory of the season.

Southampton coach Claude Puel has some personnel problems of his own, though not in quite the same way as his opposite number. None of Southampton’s players are really firing at the moment. Nathan Redmond scored on the opening day of the season, but Puel decided to switch Shane Long for Charlie Austin for the last fixture, after two disappointing performances from the Irish man. In fairness to him though, he had little supply from his teammates. Historically a resolute defence, Southampton are having problems at the back too. Without a clean sheet, it’s difficult to see how the Saints will come away from North London with anything, such is the lack of creativity up front and solidity at the back. The Saints will be looking to Dusan Tadic to create chances. The Serbian has the underlying statistics to suggest goals and assists are coming, but so far is yet to achieve either.

Team News

With Giroud and Özil returning from an extended break and Mustafi and Perez adding to the squad, Arsenal have a wealth of options to choose from.

Aaron Ramsey is the only notable new absence. Alex Iwobi is a doubt, but the Gunners have a new found depth to their squad.

A big question is whether Puel will stick with Charlie Austin or return Shane Long up front. The manager may even decide his diamond formation is not working and play the pair together, though this appears unlikely.

Goalkeeper Fraser Forster had to pull out of England’s World Cup qualifier with a hand injury. He is a doubt for this game, which would mean Jason McCarthy would step up to start in goal.

Expected line-ups:

Arsenal(4-2-3-1): Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Cazorla, Xhaka, Walcott, Özil, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sanchez
Subs Ospina, Gibbs, Giroud, Chambers, Coquelin, Elneny, Perez
Injured: Mertesacker, Gabriel, Jenkinson, Ramsey, Welbeck
Doubtful: Iwobi
Not available:
Southampton (4-2-3-1): McCarthy, Soares, Fonte, Van Dijk, Bertrand, Romeu, Hobjberg, Davis, Tadic, Austin, Redmond
Subs Forster, Yoshida, Clasie, Long, Boufal, Ward-Prowse, Targett
Injured: Pied
Doubtful: Forster
Not available:

So far this season

. . .
Arsenal this season Southampton this season
8th League Position 15th
0 (1) (at home) Wins (away) 0 (0)
3-1 vs. Watford Biggest win
0 (1) (at home) Draws (away) 0 (1)
3-4 vs. Liverpool Biggest Defeat 0-2 vs. Manchester United
Alexis Sanchez (1) Top scorer Nathan Redmond & Jay Rodriguez (1)
Alexis Sanchez (2) Assist Leader James Ward-Prowse (1)
Y6, R0 Discipline Y3, R0
1 Failures to score 1
1 Clean Sheets 0
2 Both Teams to Score Games 2
2 Over 2.5 Games 0
1 Under 2.5 Games 3
  • Despite their somewhat poor form this season, Arsenal haven’t struggled for goals. They’ve scored 3 goals in 2 of their games so far this season. 
  • Southampton really haven’t gotten off to the start the fans would have expected. Without a win in the first 3 games, the Saints are finding goals hard to come by.
  • Although they did manage to not find the target in one game. But with Giroud, Sanchez and Özil returning, plus Perez adding more strength to the attack, more goals should certainly come.
  • Defensively there are problems too. The Saints are yet to keep a clean sheet in the Premier League this year. With Arsenal scoring freely, Southampton will have to tighten up fast.

Head to Head

Last 5 meetings between the two sides
Date Competition Game Result First Goal-scorer
2/2/2016 The Premier League Arsenal 0 – 0 Southampton 
12/26/2015 The Premier League Southampton 4 – 0 Arsenal  Martina 19′
1/1/2015 The Premier League Southampton 2 – 0 Arsenal Mane 34′
12/3/2014 The Premier League Arsenal 1 – 0 Southampton Sanchez 89′
9/23/2014 League Cup Arsenal 1 – 2 Southampton Sanchez 14′

Conclusion and Betting Tips

It’s hard to look past Arsenal here. The Gunners are big favourites at all operators, with little value in betting for the win. A small handicap or Arsenal winning with a clean sheet would be my suggestions, but again, it’s tricky to get value here. Combining either with Alexis Sanchez as an anytime goal scorer helps things along. You can get a get price on all these selections at Ladbrokes.