Get game ready for Ralph Hasenhüttl's first home Premier League match at St Mary's against Arsenal on Sunday with our in-depth match preview...
Southampton vs Arsenal
St Mary’s Stadium
Sunday 16th December, 1.30pm GMT
Referee: Chris Kavanagh
Assistants: Daniel Cook, Sian Massey-Ellis
Fourth official: Graham Scott
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
Saints host an Arsenal side unbeaten in 22 matches in all competitions at St Mary’s on Sunday but will do so with renewed energy and optimism following the appointment of new First Team Manager Ralph Hasenhüttl.
The Austrian will sit in the home dugout – or more likely stand at the very edge of the technical area – for the first time this weekend having had the opportunity to work with his players for a full six days at Staplewood.
Just two days’ work were possible before the defeat to Cardiff last time out and while Unai Emery’s Gunners will remain firm favourites, Hasenhüttl will be expecting a stern resistance at the very minimum from his team.
Just two points cover Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs from fifth place upwards so an away victory remains critical to force a way into and consolidate a place in the Champions League spots.
Southampton: Ralph Hasenhüttl’s squad has been boosted by the potential returns of Danny Ings, Shane Long and Cédric ahead of Sunday’s visit of the Gunners.
A late call will be made on Jack Stephens however, who is a doubt after sustaining a knock to his knee in training on Friday morning.
Arsenal: Laurent Koscielny is Arsenal’s only fit senior centre-half with Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Shkodran Mustafi both suspended and Rob Holding out for the season.
Even then, the Frenchman played 72 minutes against Qarabag having only just returned from a seven-month absence from injury.
Emery has suggested his skipper may not be fit enough to start again at the weekend so a makeshift backline featuring repurposed full-backs Sead Kolasinac and Nacho Monreal seems the most likely solution for the Spaniard.
Cardiff (a) L 2-0
Tottenham (a) L 3-1 (Austin)
Man Utd (h) D 2-2 (Armstrong, Cédric)
Leicester (a) L 0-0* (6-5 on pens) (Carabao Cup)
Fulham (a) L 2-3 (Armstrong 2)
Qarabag (h) W 2-0 (UEFA Europa League)
Huddersfield (h) W 1-0
Man Utd (a) D 2-2
Tottenham (h) W 4-2
Vorskla Poltava (a) W 3-0
Ralph Hasenhüttl: “I think it’s not so difficult to get a good atmosphere in St Mary’s. It needs one chance against such a team and they are immediately behind us and help us.
"That’s what we try to do from the first minute on, and it’s really all about being brave and also have good ball possession and good decisions and deep runs, good transition after winning the ball, transition not only at the back but also the front."
Unai Emery: "I think it’s a very big match like every match in the Premier League. Southampton have some very good players and a new coach who has good experience and good performances in Germany. On Sunday I think they are going to push against us a lot."
Southampton: Charlie Austin has scored in every one of his four Premier League appearances against Arsenal, netting twice last season in a 1-1 draw at St Mary’s and 3-2 defeat at the Emirates.
Midfield pairing Mario Lemina and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg will be key to Saints chances; the former has been building consistency in recent weeks and rises to the occasion against the league’s top sides.
Arsenal: The Uruguayan midfielder has been in dazzling form since joining from Sampdoria, adding energy and bite to the base of the midfield.
A fan favourite, Torreira picked up the club’s player of the month award for November with 70 per cent of the votes; reward for man-of-the-match performances against Liverpool and Huddersfield against whom he scored an acrobatic scissor kick to seal three points at the Emirates Stadium.
Gabonese international Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang shares the lead with Mo Salah at the top of the Premier League scoring charts with 10 goals this season.
Last five meetings:
April 2018: Arsenal 3-2 Saints (Long, Austin)
December 2017: Saints 1-1 Arsenal (Austin)
May 2017: Saints 0-2 Cardiff (Lambert)
January 2017: Saints 0-5 Arsenal (De Ridder)
November 2016: Arsenal 0-2 Saints (Bertrand, Clasie)
DID YOU KNOW?
Southampton’s Charlie Austin has scored in all four of his Premier League games against Arsenal. Only Raheem Sterling versus Bournemouth (6 games) has a better 100% record of scoring against a specific opponent in Premier League history.
Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhüttl lost his first Premier League game in charge. The last time a manager’s first ever Premier League win came against Arsenal was in August 2015 (Slaven Bilic).
Southampton are winless in their last four games against Arsenal in all competitions (D1 L3), since a 2-0 victory in the League Cup quarter-final in November 2016.
NOT AT THE GAME?
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