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Feb 24, 2019 at 2.05pm UK at ​Emirates Stadium
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Preview: Arsenal vs. Southampton - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of Sunday's Premier League meeting between Arsenal and Southampton.

Arsenal will be looking to climb back into the top four when they resume their Premier League campaign with a home match against strugglers Southampton on Sunday.

The Gunners, last in top-flight action two weeks ago when seeing off Huddersfield Town 2-1, are fifth in the table and a point adrift of Manchester United in the final Champions League spot.


Arsenal's players celebrate after scoring against Manchester City in the Premier League on February 3, 2019© Reuters

Defeat to Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium last month may have provided a reality check for Unai Emery, but three wins from their last four league outings is still a positive return for Arsenal.

As well as earning one-goal wins over Cardiff City and Huddersfield, the Gunners also beat Chelsea 2-0 on home soil to revive their top-four hopes. With 12 matches to go, just a point separates Arsenal, Chelsea and Man United in a three-team race for fourth place.

Since earning their narrow win at the John Smith's Stadium on February 9, through first-half goals from Alex Iwobi and Alexandre Lacazette, Arsenal have played a couple of Europa League matches.

Following a shock 1-0 loss away to BATE Borisov - a loss that will go down as one of their worst ever in European football - Emery's men recovered with a well-earned 3-0 triumph in Thursday's second leg to set up a last-16 tie with Rennes.

The Europa League may well take priority for three-time winner Emery as the weeks go on, knowing that it not only gives him a chance to win silverware in his first season at the helm but also guarantees a place in the Champions League next term.

For now, though, fourth place is still very much in touching distance and Arsenal could end the weekend in that spot. Man United take on a much-fancied Liverpool side at Old Trafford and out-of-form Chelsea are not in league action due to their EFL Cup commitments.

Arsenal will fancy their chances of overcoming Southampton as they are unbeaten in 12 Premier League home games, winning the last six in a row.

Against sides starting the day in the relegation zone, meanwhile, the Gunners have won their last 30 at the Emirates since a 4-4 draw with Tottenham in October 2008.

Recent form in Premier League: WLWWLW
Recent form (all competitions): LWLWLW


Southampton midfielder James Ward-Prowse celebrates after scoring against Leicester on January 12, 2019© Reuters

Southampton's crushing 2-1 home loss to fellow strugglers Cardiff in their most recent outing saw them slip below their opponents back into the relegation zone.

After a couple of months of positives following Ralph Hasenhuttl's appointment in December, the Saints came crashing back down to earth when Kenneth Zohore picked out the bottom corner in the final seconds of play two weeks ago.

Hasenhuttl's side had been unbeaten in five Premier League matches in 2019 prior to that setback, collecting nine points from games against Chelsea, Leicester, Everton, Crystal Palace and Burnley this calendar year.

However, Southampton do still remain unbeaten in their last four Premier League away games, including a goalless draw at Stamford Bridge last month - they last had a longer run without defeat on the road between August-November 2015 (W2 D4).

All of a sudden the pressure is back on the south coast side, though, as they could potentially find themselves cut further adrift by the time they kick off at the Emirates Stadium. Cardiff and Newcastle United, both two points better off, face Watford and Huddersfield on Friday and Saturday respectively.

Hasenhuttl now has a big job on his hands getting his side back on course for survival. The Saints have dropped a league-high 17 points from winning positions in the Premier League this season, while only Leicester (13) have won more from behind than Arsenal (12).

To make things even more difficult for the Austrian, Southampton face Arsenal, Man United, Tottenham and Liverpool in four of their next six matches.

Five games without defeat now has a different slant to it, with Southampton winless in three, and unless they can produce some magic against the division's big six then they could find themselves in a similar predicament to last term when eventually pulling away.

Recent form in Premier League: DWWDDL
Recent form (all competitions): WLWDDL

Team News

Unai Emery greets Laurent Koscielny on the sidelines during Arsenal's Europa League tie with Qarabag FK on December 13, 2018© Reuters

Arsenal have a fresh injury concern at the back as Laurent Koscielny was forced off with in Thursday's win over BATE, likely seeing him join Rob Holding and Hector Bellerin on the sidelines.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles missed out through illness in midweek but is pushing for a return here and should take over from Stephan Lichtsteiner at right-back if given the all-clear to play.

Emery must decide whether to hand Mesut Ozil just a third start since Boxing Day, having used the German playmaker from the off against BATE, or instead go with the fresh Aaron Ramsey in attacking midfield. Alternatively, a 3-4-3 formation may be used, as was the case against Huddersfield when Henrikh Mkhitaryan started alongside Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Aubameyang has had a hand in nine goals in his last six Premier League games at the Emirates, scoring six and setting up three, while Lacazette - suspended against BATE - has scored more winning goals (eight) than any other Prem player this season.

In terms of the visitors, Gabonese midfielder Mario Lemina has not trained and is therefore considered a major doubt.

Stuart Armstrong is back in contention, however, and he may provide Hasenhuttl with a different option in the injury absence of Danny Ings and Michael Obafemi.

Striker Charlie Austin has scored in all five of his Premier League games against Arsenal - only Raheem Sterling (six vs. Bournemouth) has a better 100% record of scoring in every game against an opponent in the competition.

Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Leno; Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Mustafi, Monreal; Torreira, Xhaka; Mkhitaryan, Ramsey, Aubameyang; Lacazette

Southampton possible starting lineup:
McCarthy; Bednarek, Stephens, Vestergaard; Valery, Ward-Prowse, Romeu, Hojbjerg, Bertrand; Long, Redmond

Head To Head

Arsenal are unbeaten in their last 23 home league games against Southampton, stretching back to a 1-0 loss in November 1987.

Nineteen of those matches have come in the Premier League era - the most a team has played away at another in the competition without ever picking up a victory.

The Saints won the reverse fixture 3-2 at St Mary's Stadium in December, though, and they could complete their first league double over Arsenal since 1987-88 - a fixture famous for teenage striker Alan Shearer netting a hat-trick on his first start for the club.

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We say: Arsenal 2-0 Southampton

On the same day that Man United face Liverpool in the Premier League and Chelsea meet Man City in the EFL Cup final, Arsenal's fixture with Southampton has gone under the radar somewhat. Emery will want to get the job done in as efficient a manner as possible, and the hosts should encounter few problems against a Saints side embroiled in another relegation scrap.

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Who will win Sunday's Premier League meeting between Arsenal and Southampton?

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Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny in action during his side's Premier League clash with West Ham on January 12, 2019
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Arsenal injury, suspension list vs. Southampton
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