Saints vs Arsenal: Preview

By SFC Media time Mon 27 Jan First team

Saints welcome the Barclays Premier League leaders in Tuesday’s evening kick-off at St Mary’s.

The 7.45pm clash sees the hosts chasing their fourth home win of the month in all competitions. Southampton will undoubtedly be made to work hard for a victory against a side who have emerged as the winners in all five of their January matches this year.

Ninth-placed Saints are looking to shorten the five-point gap between themselves and Newcastle United above them, while Arsenal are looking to further open their one-point margin at the top over Manchester City.

With 16 wins from their 22 matches played, Arsene Wenger’s side have become the team to beat at the summit. However, not only do they have City breathing down their necks, Chelsea sit just another point further back.

Saints’ last league match saw them held to a 2-2 draw away to Sunderland, which followed a 1-0 home victory over West Brom.

Arsenal’s last away encounter produced a hard-fought 2-1 win over Aston Villa, courtesy of Jack Wilshere and a ninth league goal of the season for forward Olivier Giroud.

Two of the Frenchman’s goals came in the reverse fixture between the sides earlier this season, Giroud netting in each half in a match where Mauricio Pochettino’s side battled valiantly and a 2-0 scoreline flattered the Gunners.

Arsenal handed prodigy Gedion Zelalem a first-team debut in Friday’s 4-0 FA Cup defeat of Coventry City. The youngster, 17, was not born when Gunners boss Wenger took charge of the team in 1996.

Team News

Guly do Prado made an encouraging return to First Team action with a goal against Yeovil Town in The FA Cup, sweeping home a penalty to send Saints on their way into a Fifth Round tie away to Sunderland.

Artur Boruc continued his transition back into the starting XI with an appearance against Sunderland in the league after marking his return with a clean sheet against West Brom.

Dejan Lovren and Gaston Ramirez are both sidelined with ankle ligament injuries, whilst striker Dani Osvaldo is unavailable.

Victor Wanyama is back in training with the First Team as he pushes to be in contention for the squad on Tuesday night.

Arsenal welcome back Aaron Ramsey, Mikel Arteta and Thomas Vermaelen into their squad for Tuesday but doubts persist over the availability of Jack Wilshere.

Meanwhile, Wenger has confirmed that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain isn’t fully fit but maintains that he will make a decision on whether to include him in the squad closer to the time of the match.

Pre-match quotes

Arsene Wenger:

“We have a doubt about Jack Wilshere but Ramsey, Arteta and Vermaelen are back in the squad.

“Everybody goes to Southampton knowing they are in for a very difficult game.

“He (Oxlade-Chamberlain) is not fully fit but he is getting closer. I haven’t decided whether he will start tomorrow.

“Southampton have done a remarkable job with their academy. Their quality of their work is amazing.

“He (Pochettino) has done a very good job because nobody knew him when he came here.”

Previous Meetings

Saints missed the chance to go top of the table when they were beaten 2-0 at the Emirates in November. A brace of goals from French striker Olivier Giroud in either half saw the Gunners move further clear at the top, where they remain going into this game.

Prior to last season, the previous two meetings in the Premier League were in the 2004/05 campaign where a 2-2 draw at Highbury was followed up by a 1-1 stalemate at St Mary’s – a game where both teams saw red, with David Prutton and Robin van Persie the men dismissed on that occasion.

Saints last won this fixture on home soil in 2002 the same season in which both teams met in the FA Cup Final. Just two weeks before the cup showpiece Saints were beaten 6-1 at Highbury, before battling to a close 1-0 defeat at the Millennium Stadium.

Arsenal were 6-1 winners again last season in Saints’ first trip to the Emirates, but a hard-fought 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture during January showed the progress made last season.

Arguably, one of the most famous meetings with the Gunners was our dramatic 3-2 win in the last game at the Dell in 2001.

Tuesday's game is the 84th all-time meeting between the two teams. Arsenal have the upper hand with 44 victories to Saints’ 16. A further 23 games have ended all square.

Match Information

Lee Mason will referee Tuesday’s game, and he will be assisted by Mr J Collin and Mr S Long. Iain Williamson is the fourth official.

Online Coverage

As with every First Team game, we'll be providing minute-by-minute coverage throughout the day on our official Twitter feed plus goal updates on our official Facebook page.

You can listen to live commentary courtesy of BBC Solent on Saints Player, where you can keep up to date with all the stats and scores from around the country.

Mauricio Pochettino spoke to Saints Player ahead of the game, and you can watch that interview, as well as the press conference in full on our video channel.

After the match there will be plenty more content on and Saints Player, so stay tuned!

And if you’re coming to the game, don’t forget to take your smartphones and join in with #MarchingIn on our social media channels. Tweet us @SouthamptonFC or comment on our official Facebook page and upload images onto Instagram with the #MarchingIn for a chance to appear in a future edition of our Matchday Magazine.

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