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Southampton vs. Arsenal

St. Mary's Stadium

1st January, 2013.


On Sky

Saints v Arsenal Match Preview

Arsenal travel to St. Mary's on the back of four consecutive Premier League victories, but find Southampton in decent fettle themselves, having accumulated a couple of creditable away draws over the festive period.

This will be Arsenal's first competitive visit to St. Mary's since 2005 when a damaging 1-1 draw virtually ended their title chances.

Vital Quotes:

With Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain a part of Arsene Wenger's squad and with Luke Shaw apparently on the radar, Arsene Wenger heaped praise on Southampton's scouting department.

''The question of Southampton's academy set-up is a very good one because they have done a fabulous job,' said the Frenchman.

'Why? It is down to the quality of their scouting, the quality of their coaching and education. When you look at what Bale is doing, and Walcott.

'And now they have they players like Morgan Schneiderlin, they have brought some players of top, top quality and they work well. They have fantastic scouting.'

'They are not comfortable [opponents], Southampton.

'I saw them against Fulham, I will watch them against Stoke (on video), but from what I've heard they played very well.'

Southampton Team News:

Sanits have doubts over Nathaniel Clyne (ankle) and Adam Llalana (knee) who will have late fitness checks.

Gaston Ramirez looks to be back in contention following a knee injury.

Southampton (from): K.Davis, Gazzaniga, Clyne, Yoshida, Hooiveld, Fonte, Richardson, Fox, Shaw, Llalana, Ward-Prowse, Cork, Schniederlin, Lee, S.Davis, Gaston, Puncheon, Chaplow, Lambert, Rodriguez, Muyoka, Hoskins.

Player to watch: Gaston Ramirez

If he plays, Ramirez has the range and the radar to be the Saints creative hub. His acquisition was one of the eye raising purchases of the summer.

Rickie Lambert upfront and Adam Llalana are two of Southampton's biggest dangermen, but they will rely on Gaston's eye for a pass for service. He can shoot too and Arsenal have a worrying habit of allowing shots from distance this season.

Arsenal Team News:

Abou Diaby (thigh) and Andre Santos (stomach) are training again, but will not feature in the squad. Otherwise, Lukasz Fabianski (ankle) is Arsenal's only long term injury. Per Mertesacker is expected to return from norovirus.

Arsenal (from): Szczesny, Mannone, Sagna, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Djourou, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Arteta, Coquelin, Wilshere, Ramsey, S.Cazorla, Rosicky, Chamberlain, Gervinho, Podolski, Arshavin, Walcott, Chamakh, Giroud.

Player to watch: Theo Walcott

All eyes will be on Theo again as he returns to his old club for the first time. The question will abound as to whether he starts through the centre again.

I think he will begin on the right with Giroud taking the central berth as the two have shown a promising partnership this season.

Match Facts & Stats

Alex Oxlade Chamberlain and Theo Walcott will be returning to their old club for the first time.

Arsenal haven't lost to Saints since a 3-2 reverse at St Mary's Stadium in November 2002.

Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry, Ian Wright and Robin van Persie have all scored their first league goals for Arsenal against Southampton. Perhaps worth a flutter on Szczesny, Coquelin or Jenkinson to score?

Arsenal played in the last ever competitive fixture at the Dell in 2001, Matt Le Tissier scored a last minute winner to make it 3-2 Saints.

The sides have played one another 79 times. Arsenal have won 41, drawn 22 and lost 16 encounters.

Ref Watch:

Lee Probert will be the match official.

Match Prediction:

Southampton are becoming formidable opponents nowadays and I think this will be a tough match with goals in it. I'm going for a 2-2 draw. Walcott and Cazorla for Arsenal, Lambert and Schneiderlin for Saints.

Next Fixtures:

Arsenal are away at Swansea in the F.A. Cup on Sunday, Southampton are at home to Chelsea in the same competition.

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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday December 31 2012

Time: 12:03PM

Your Comments

I agree that there should be goals in the game but fancy most will be scored by your side and not ours. Hope for a good clean game with no referee bloomers.
SFC Forever
It will be interesting to see how the next fixture in the FA cup will affects the team we put out for this game. This will be the same for the line-up of the home side, seeing as they play Chelsea in the cup; of course, it depends on how far they desire to go in the cup and which of the competitions they consider as more important. It is going to be a very close game, but I feel Arsenal will just nick it. We need to sustain this run of wins and keep the Spuds under pressure
This will be a good opportunity to check out Jack Cork. Southampton have conceded a goal or less in 8 out of 9 games since his return from injury (without him average is close to 3 goals conceded per game).
Arsenales F.C
You make a good point there but we need him badly at the moment so please look elsewhere.
SFC Forever
A victory is a must in this fixture, we've got some massive games in Jan and are likely to drop at least a couple of points. A win here leaves us with not too much pressure and furthers our nice little run.
Looking at the table I didn't realise how we'd sneaked up on Man City. If we win our game in hand and beat them at the Grove in a few weeks we'll be only 3 points behind (theoretically). A lot of ifs and buts but it goes to show how quickly things can change.
Any team that can go to Stoke and come away with 3 goals and a creditable draw deserve a great deal of respect.
Wyn Mills
Actually SFC I have said before I would prefer to see how Jack Cork copes with an entire PL season. We do need a competitive midfielder soon though.
Arsenales F.C
Rocky, I have been glancing at that table every once in a while and keep feeling anything is still possible. Just string a nice run together and hope other results go your way and...we can be 2nd or even a comfortable 3rd (I know 2nd looks far fetched). It's the optimist in me, you see....
Basically, we cannot afford to drop too many more points. It's a bit of a tight rope, even a draw will see us fall back from 4th. Every game is must win, esp since the Spuds are also on a good run. 3 (ugly) points today will be brilliant.
The manager has gone for an unchanged side against the Saints today. Not surprising; I don't fancy his chances of convincing either of Theo or Oxlade-Chamberlain to start from the bench. Going to be a game we have to force a win out of.
I agree, there are possibilities that we can clime to 3rd or even 2nd, but only if we carry on in this form. All we need over the next 5 games is a few draws and losses and we can kiss 2nd and 3rd goodbye. Especially as the teams fighting for the top 5 all seem to keep the pressure is on to at least keep with the pace and hope the others trip up. Big's going to be a scrap to the death for that 4th spot. I saw an interesting stat a couple of weeks ago (can't remember from where) but it showed the percentage of goals we have conceded from individual errors....slips, trips and falls etc. can't remember the figure off the top of my head but I remember my eyes popping out of my head. Newcastles 2nd and 3rd goal......basic mistakes from Gibbs. Especially the 2nd goal we conceded. That was embarrassingly bad defending from the full back.

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