Arsenal travel to take on Southampton at St Mary’s on Tuesday night and will look to continue their perfect start to 2014. The Gunners have won their five games in all competitions so far this year, but face arguably their toughest test of the new year on the south coast.
Arsene Wenger’s men are on top of the Premier League table, and Betfair odds make them favourites to stay top after 90 minutes against Mauricio Pochettino’s charges. The matchday squad will be boosted by the return of a number of recently injured stars, with Aaron Ramsey, Thomas Vermaelen and Mikel Arteta set to be available, but Jack Wilshere is a doubt with an ankle knock.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could well feature against his former club, while Lukas Podolski is also in the offing to play. Olivier Giroud was rested against Coventry in the FA Cup, but should return to lead the line here. Arsenal have yet to make a transfer signing but they have enough firepower upfront to deal with Southampton.
Southampton have been one of the success stories of this season’s Premier League campaign, with the St Mary’s outfit playing an expansive brand of football and going toe-to-toe with the top teams in the division.
Pochettino has a number of injury worries ahead of Arsenal’s visit, with key defender Dejan Lovren the main absentee, although Gaston Ramirez is also not able to play. Influential midfielder Victor Wanyama may well be ready to make a return, while Rickie Lambert is available.
Arsenal have a good recent record against Southampton and have not been beaten in the last nine meetings between the sides, although the last two clashes at St Mary’s have ended up 1-1.
The North London outfit have been good on the road this term, and have recorded a joint league high 25 points from their 11 games away from the Emirates Stadium.
After looking very regimented at the back in the early part of the season, the Saints have started to leak goals of late. The Gunners beat their opponents 2-0 on home soil back in November.
This will by no means be an easy task for the league-leading Gunners, but Wenger will send his side out to dominate Southampton and get three points.