Match Pack: Arsenal vs Saints

By SFC Media time Fri 22 Feb Arsenal v Saints
Photo by Southampton FC

Our in-depth match preview, in association with SportPesa, brings you everything you need to know ahead of Southampton's meeting with Arsenal in the Premier League.

THE MATCH

Arsenal vs Southampton
Premier League
Emirates Stadium
Sunday 24th February, 2.05pm GMT

THE OFFICIALS

Referee: Graham Scott
Assistants: Mick McDonough, Neil Davies
Fourth official: Chris Kavanagh

WHAT KIT ARE SAINTS IN?

Southampton will be wearing their yellow and blue away strip at Emirates Stadium. 

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

Saints’ first win under Ralph Hasenhüttl came at the end of the first full week of training with his new squad, a morale-boosting 3-2 success over Arsenal at St Mary’s.

With two weeks of work behind Saints heading into Sunday’s rematch at Emirates Stadium – including an intensive five-day training camp in Tenerife last week – Hasenhüttl joked in his pre-match press conference that a 6-4 scoreline is on the way this time around.


SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 16: Ralph Hasenhuttl during the Premier League match between Southampton FC and Arsenal FC at St Mary's Stadium on December 16, 2018 in Southampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by James Bridle - Southampton FC/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Kicking off his Saints reign in style: December's 3-2 win over Arsenal remains a highlight of Ralph Hasenhüttl's time in charge so far.

The Austrian is confident that his team can bounce back from the disappointing 2-1 defeat to Cardiff but will be well aware of the attacking threat posed by an Arsenal side that has won ten of its last 12 Premier League home games

The fact, however, that Unai Emery was forced to deploy his biggest names to get his side past BATE Borisov in the Europa League on Thursday night may also give Saints hope of a European hangover for the hosts in the capital.

TEAM NEWS

Arsenal:  Unai Emery picked a very strong team for Thursday’s 3-0 win over BATE and is likely to stick with most of those players on Sunday.

Sokratis scored on his return to the side against the Belarusian side from the substitute’s bench and may well take the place of Laurent Koscielny who went off injured.

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Ainsley Maitland-Niles (illness) and Alexandre Lacazette (suspension) did not feature in midweek and while the former is in line to regain his spot at right-back, Emery will need to make a call on the latter; the Gunners lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation against BATE with Mesut Özil playing and impressing in behind Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Southampton: Ralph Hasenhüttl confirmed on Friday afternoon that Saints’ forward options are set to be boosted by the return of both Michael Obafemi and Stuart Armstrong ahead of this weekend's trip to the capital.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 20: Michael Obafemi signs a new three and a half year contract with Southampton FC, pictured with manager Ralph Hasenhuttl(L) at the Staplewood Campus, on February 20, 2019 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Michael Obafemi is in line to make a return in some capacity against Arsenal fresh from signing a new three-and-half year contract with the club on Wednesday.

Midfielder Mario Lemina remains sidelined, while Danny Ings, who is out with a hamstring problem, could be back soon, with Hasenhüttl optimistic he will at least be back for Saints' home meeting with Tottenham in early March, if not before. 

"We have a few players back in training," the Austrian said. "Michael Obafemi has been training for two weeks with the team; it seems like his injury has gone. Stuart Armstrong is also back on the pitch, there's been no problems for the last fortnight with him.”

FORM GUIDE

Arsenal’s last five:

BATE Borisov (h) W 3-0 (UEFA Europa League)
BATE Borisov (a) L 1-0 (UEFA Europa League)
Huddersfield (a) W 2-1
Man City (a) L 3-1
Cardiff (h) W 2-1

Southampton’s last five:

Cardiff (h) L 2-1 (Stephens)
Burnley (a) D 1-1 (Redmond)
Crystal Palace (h) D 1-1 (Ward-Prowse)
Everton (h) W 2-1 (Ward-Prowse, Digne o.g)
Derby (h) D 2-2 (3-5 on pens) (FA Cup) (Armstrong, Redmond)

THE MANAGERS

Unai Emery: "Like all the teams in the Premier League, they are difficult and they will be preparing for this match with big players and also with time and for us it is difficult. We have respect [for them] but we need to impose our gameplan and quality and intensity.

"It is very important to get the three points, we are playing at home with our supporters and I want to carry on stronger here but with a big demand from ourselves to find a victory."

Ralph Hasenhüttl: "It can’t be an advantage that they played on Thursday evening and we didn’t, but we know taking something away from the Emirates Stadium is far from being easy.

"We know we can be an opponent in an away game that is not easy to beat. I think we can take another clean sheet in London, as we did against Chelsea. That can be a key for a good game for us."

PREVIOUS MEETINGS

All-time record:

Played: 96
Southampton: 21
Draws: 26
Cardiff: 49

Previous five meetings:

December 2018: Southampton 3-2 Arsenal (Ings 2, Austin)
April 2018: Arsenal 3-2 Southampton (Long, Austin)
December 2017: Southampton 1-1 Arsenal (Austin)
May 2017: Southampton 0-2 Arsenal 
January 2017: Southampton 0-5 Arsenal

DID YOU KNOW?

– Having won the reverse fixture, Southampton are looking to complete their first league double over Arsenal since the 1987-88 campaign, when a 17-year-old Alan Shearer netted a hat-trick on his first league start for Saints.

– Southampton are unbeaten in their last four Premier League away games (W2 D2). They last had a longer run without defeat on the road between August-November 2015 (W2 D4).

– Arsenal have conceded 999 Premier League goals and could become the eighth team to concede 1000 in the competition.


NOT AT THE GAME?

We’ll be bringing you live, in-depth coverage from Emirates Stadium via our interactive match centre here at southamptonfc.com, which also features free commentary and live updates from the game.

As usual, we’ll be covering all angles via our various social channels too, so make sure you’re following us!

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