Stand-out stats, key men and past encounters: everything you need to know about Saints’ trip to Arsenal on Sunday…
Arsenal vs Southampton
Sunday 8th April, 2.15pm BST
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
The shift in Arsenal’s priorities towards the end of the campaign was illustrated in Thursday’s Europa League victory over CSKA Moscow.
Key men Mesut Ozil, Alexandre Lacazette and Aaron Ramsey all shone at the Emirates to secure a commanding 4-1 lead for the Gunners as they look to reach the semi-finals of the competition in Russia next week; a rotated squad is expected for the visit of Saints.
Sunday’s visitors already have a semi-final of their own to consider against Chelsea at the end of the month but for now all attentions are firmly focused on the Premier League where Mark Hughes’s men sit two points from safety with seven matches to play.
With rivals Swansea, West Brom, Huddersfield, Brighton, Crystal Palace and Bournemouth all facing off against each other this weekend, a positive result would do a world of good.
While the Gunners are unbeaten in their last 22 home league games against Southampton (W16 D6) - since a 0-1 loss in November 1987 – Saints have won two of their last five visits to the Emirates following League Cup successes in 2014-15 and 2016-17.
Arsenal: Henrik Mkhitaryan was prematurely withdrawn after 61 minutes on Thursday night with a knee problem which – according to Arsene Wenger – “will certainly keep him out of Sunday’s match.”
A training ground injury to David Ospina meanwhile is expected to sideline the Colombian for two to three weeks. The likes of Callum Chambers, Alex Iwobi, Danny Welbeck and Mohamed Elneny are likely to return to the starting XI.
Southampton: There are no fresh injury concerns for Saints boss Mark Hughes ahead of Sunday’s trip to the Emirates. The returning Charlie Austin came through unscathed at London Stadium last weekend and is set to feature once more on Sunday.
After featuring in the matchday squad for the first time since February against West Ham, Maya Yoshida will also fancy his chances of a return to Premier League action.
Arsenal’s previous five:
CSKA Moscow (h) W 4-1
Stoke (h) W 3-0
AC Milan (h) W 3-1
Watford (h) W 3-0
AC Milan (a) W 2-0
Southampton’s previous five:
West Ham (a) L 3-0
Wigan (a) W 2-0 (FA Cup)
Newcastle (a) L 3-0
Stoke (h) D 0-0
Burnley (a) D 1-1
Several of Arsenal’s star men stood out in the Europa League quarter-finals on Thursday, none more so than talisman Mesut Özil.
The German was man of the match against CSKA Moscow, laying on two assists as the Gunners blew their Russian visitors away before half time; the playmaker’s dink over the defence for Aaron Ramsey to jump, volley and lob over Igor Akinfeev will go down as one of the best goals of this season’s competition.
Given their midweek exploits, it is likely that Arsene Wenger will rotate his squad for the visit of Saints. January signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is cup tied in Europe but has scored more goals (five) in his first six Premier League appearances than any other Arsenal player.
Top scorers: Alexandre Lacazette (12), Aaron Ramsey (9) Danny Welbeck (7),
Most assists: Mesut Özil (13), Aaron Ramsey (10), Henrik Mkhitaryan (6)
The form of Charlie Austin will be critical for Saints between now and the end of the season.
The striker’s flurry of goals before injury kept him out from December to March included an early opener against the Gunners at St Mary’s in a 1-1 draw and his poaching instincts always give his team a chance of getting something.
Austin has netted in all three of his previous Premier League appearances against Arsene Wenger’s side, a record shared with Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson.
Top scorers: Charlie Austin (6), Manolo Gabbiadini (4), Dušan Tadić (4)
Most assists: Dušan Tadić (4), Nathan Redmond (4), Ryan Bertrand (3)
Previous four meetings:
December 2017: Southampton 1-1 Arsenal
May 2017: Southampton 0-2 Arsenal
January 2017: Southampton 0-5 Arsenal
November 2016: Arsenal 0-2 Southampton (Clasie, Bertrand)
DID YOU KNOW?
- This will be the Gunners’ fifth consecutive match played at home in all competitions. The last time they had such a run was in April 2006, with the fifth and final match ending in a 5-0 victory vs Aston Villa.
- Mark Hughes has already beaten Arsenal with Stoke this season, back in August. He could become the first manager to beat them twice in the same Premier League season with two different clubs.
NOT AT THE GAME?
Not in the capital on Sunday? We’ll be with you every step of the way on our interactive match centre at southamptonfc.com, where we will have all the build-up, as well as in-game updates and free live audio commentary.
Additionally, be sure to follow us on our various social channels for behind-the-scenes access and further updates: