Our EPL takes a look at Wednesday evening’s EPL fixture between Southampton and Arsenal
Arsenal’s heroic defeat of United – the first time that Wenger has dethroned Mourinho in 13 attempts – has once again given them the faint possibility of a top four finish. Liverpool have been stuttering of late while United’s European odyssey has exacted a toll on their domestic ambitions. You would think that they would have to win all their remaining fixtures to stand any chance. Southampton, for their part, are in a position where there is little to play for this season. But Puel’s side were dogged at Liverpool and could still play a big part in the top four shake-up albeit in a spoiling capacity.
Southampton v Arsenal | Wednesday 10 May | St Mary’s Stadium | 20:45
To Win (90 Mins)
Southampton 5/2 | Draw 5/2 | Arsenal 1/1
Puel’s side will be without a few major, long-term absentees. You would probably say that Virgil Van Dijk and Charlie Austin roughly approximate to being their most influential players. Van Dijk – out for the season – is allegedly happy at the Southampton. Oriol Romeu has had a fantastic season sitting in front of the back four and won their player of the season award at a recent gala. Yoshida was also honoured and one would think that he and Stephens will need to be immense to keep out Sanchez this week
Manolo Gabbiadini’s presence in the box will be a source of constant frustration to Arsenal. Tadic and Boufal are likely to support him while Davies lurks in those Lampard-esque areas. The Saints have had a decent record against Arsenal in recent seasons, including an emphatic 4-0 victory on Boxing Day in 2015. They did concede five against the Gunners in the Cup at St Mary’s, although that was a greatly reconfigured side.
Arsenal’s switch to a back three paid dividends against a United side that looked extremely jaded at the weekend. Monreal and Holding looked impressive and Wenger may resist the urge to put Mustafi straight back into the side this week. One concern will be the fitness of Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka. He had one of his most well-rounded performances against United but seems to have aggravated a previously existing injury. Francis Coquelin would likely come in for the Swiss and partner Ramsey in the middle of the park. Oxlade-Chamberlain has revelled in his new wing-back role and will be involved in a juicy tussle with Ryan Bertrand.
Clearly, Sanchez is the fulcrum of this side. He will need to regain some of the form that was propelling Arsenal at the beginning of the seasons should they stand even the most remote chance of a top four finish. Danny Welbeck may start this week while Giroud has some more bench time, while Mezut Ozil will look to ingratiate himself with the Arsenal supporters again.
Verdict: Draw 5/2
Despite the chance that Arsenal have everything riding on this game, they just have not been consistent enough this season. United had put all their eggs in the European basket. That drubbing at the hand of Palace comes to mind and I think that Southampton will utilise those whipped balls of Ward-Prowse to great effect. I still think Arsenal will get something from the match, just not enough.
Written by Damien Kayat @Hollywoodbets