Southampton v Arsenal – St Mary’s Stadium – Premier League – Thursday 6pm
Southampton v Arsenal – Preview;
Back-to-back defeats have rather left Arsenal treading water in the middle of the Premier League.
An altogether more solid base attained ahead of the lockdown has somewhat deserted Mikel Arteta and his Gunners, with setbacks at Manchester City and Brighton testament that the Spaniard has a far bigger job ahead of him than some Arsenal followers would like to think.
Nevertheless, Thursday’s swift return to the south coast offers another opportunity, although the Gunners boss is fully aware that Southampton has adapted their own strengths under the guidance of Austrian, Ralph Hasenhüttl – a coach who has spent some considerable time working in the Bundesliga.
“They are a very German side,” Arteta explained.
“A manager who has the team into pressing mode, they are really aggressive, really good on the counter-press, really good on the transition, they know what they’re doing and they all seem very committed to him. A very dangerous team.
“I know it’s a really difficult ground to go to there. I explained what the qualities of Southampton are and I agree with you, they are a really dangerous team.
“They have no fear, they go for it and they really believe in what they do and they compete really, really well. We have to be ready and I’m sure on Thursday we will be ready.
Arteta confessed there is still plenty to do at the Emirates Stadium, hinting that a quick fix isn’t an option for a club looking to change direction
“I knew since I joined what I was jumping into,” he added.
“The past few seasons, what happened, I knew it wasn’t a coincidence. So I could’ve sat back and waited to see if the opportunity was still there in the summer, or I could use this time as well to start the process that I want and to start to see where the changes that have to be made are.
“A lot of things have already changed at the club and are in evolution to change, even results and energy was changing just before the coronavirus. I cannot control everything. Now I don’t have them in my hands as much as I would like during the day, because they are in and out, in and out and that is obviously not ideal for what we need as a team and as a club.
“But again, it’s not an excuse. We are here to win football games and that’s my responsibility. I take it fully. But we are assessing a lot of things to make a very clear picture of what is going to take us to the next level because right now is not enough.
The Gunners chief will demand more from his squad on Thursday evening, insisting the group are more than capable of providing a positive impact.
“I think they are really willing and they are trying really hard, and I was really upset because when I was talking about competing it is for 100 minutes, now these types of games have water breaks and the amount of changes with substitutions that you can make, so you have to keep focus.
“I hate losing, but I hate giving games away when they are under control and you deserve to win them. So it is about that edge, the way they run, the way they press, the way they care, it is completely changed and I am satisfied with that.
“We have done more than enough to win that game, but at the end of the day in the Premier League, at this level, if you give something to the opponent in some moments, it is going to be difficult to win football games in a row.”
Southampton v Arsenal – Head to head;
Southampton won; 21
Arsenal won; 50
Southampton v Arsenal – Last five meetings (all competitions);
December 10, 2017 – Premier League
Southampton 1-1 Arsenal
April 8, 2018 – Premier League
Arsenal 3-2 Southampton
December 16, 2018 – Premier League
Arsenal 2-0 Southampton
November 23, 2019 – Premier League
Arsenal 2-2 Southampton
Jeevesie’s prediction; Southampton 2-1 Arsenal
(Quotes courtesy of Arsenal Football Club)