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Dec 16, 2018 at 1.30pm UK at St Mary's Stadium
Attendance: 29,497
Ings (20', 44'), Austin (85')
FT(HT: 2-1)
Mkhitaryan (28', 53')

Preview: Southampton vs. Arsenal - prediction, team news, lineups

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

Arsenal make the trip to St Mary's to face Southampton in the Premier League having put together a 22-match unbeaten run in all competitions.

Ralph Hasenhuttl takes charge of his first match at the Saints' home ground with the club sitting three points adrift of safety in the standings.


New Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl watches from the stands on December 5, 2018© Reuters

New boss Hasenhuttl will be given time to implement his philosophy on a Southampton squad which is still full of quality, but the Austrian will be aware that he must also find a way to get points on the board as soon as possible.

Finding a balance between the two and Hasenhuttl sometimes having to go against his own beliefs to get a result may prove to be difficult, but Southampton cannot afford to suffer many more defeats at this stage of the campaign.

Hasenhuttl does not exactly have it easy, however. Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea are all to come over the next five games, although it will at least give the former RB Leipzig man a chance to assess his squad's full capabilities.

There is an argument that decisions went against Southampton away at Cardiff City last weekend, but the fact that Cardiff were able to grind out a significant three points showed Hasenhuttl what is required to get back up the league table.

Southampton's home form since the start of the 2017-18 campaign has been abysmal with just 24 points coming from their last 26 league outings at St Mary's, and it is a record which simply must improve if Southampton are to remain as a top-flight side.

Less than a goal per game has come during that period, and Hasenhuttl requires a better return from his frontmen with Charlie Austin and Manolo Gabbiadini adding just two goals in 1,092 minutes between them in the league this season.

The team's defending has not been a huge problem in general, but Southampton have tended to concede goals in clusters which have effectively left the team up against it to even salvage a share of the spoils.

The foundations are there for Hasenhuttl to be a success at Southampton, but he will want to witness signs of progress on Sunday as his side go up against one of the form teams in the country.

Recent form: LDLDLL
Recent form (all competitions): DLLDLL


Unai Emery points a finger during the Premier League game between Arsenal and Manchester City on August 12, 2018© Reuters

Arsenal are still some way from being the finished article under Unai Emery, but the fact that the Spaniard has put together such a lengthy undefeated streak should fill supporters with as much optimism as they have felt for a decade.

Emery has solved issues in goal and in central midfield, worked to rediscover the team's scoring touch in the final third and shown a willingness to hand opportunities to youth, and all that combined has brought a wave of positivity to the Emirates Stadium.

There would have been an acceptance before a ball had been kicked that a top-four place would probably be out of their reach this season, but Emery has put the club in a position where they can really attack the second half of the campaign without the fear of missing out on European football altogether.

Arsenal had to rely on a late goal to see off Huddersfield Town last weekend, although a rare clean sheet and a scrappy win will be appreciated by a fanbase who have been used to goals galore since Emery's arrival.

The next task on the agenda will be looking to register a shutout on their travels in the Premier League - something which Emery is yet to achieve - while the statistic of failing to hold a half-time lead in the top flight will continue to be churned out as long as it lasts.

That is a negative spin on a period which would have been considered extremely unlikely before a ball was kicked this season, but Emery will have no doubts about the character of his team and will demand further improvement over the coming months.

Emery will likely have to dip into the transfer market to cover the long-term injury sustained by Rob Holding, but adding another authoritative leader at the back may just be what Emery requires at this stage of his team's development.

Goals will not be a problem providing that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette stay fit, and the same can be said of Aaron Ramsey with the Welsh playmaker possessing the best assists-per-minute ratio in the division.

Recent form: DDWWDW
Recent form (all competitions): WWWDWW

Team News

Mesut Ozil wipes his nose on his shirt during the Premier League game between Arsenal and Manchester City on August 12, 2018© Reuters

Mesut Ozil is likely to find himself back on the bench for Arsenal, despite having made a successful return from injury in the Europa League on Thursday night, but Ramsey is in contention for a recall after sitting out the last two fixtures.

Emery must deal with major problems in the centre of defence, with Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis Papastathopoulous both suspended and Holding out for the rest of the season.

Laurent Koscielny came through 72 minutes of senior action for the first time in seven months on Thursday, and Emery must decide whether to risk a second outing in quick succession.

Nacho Monreal and Stephan Lichtsteiner are also options should Koscielny be kept in reserve, with Emery likely to go with four at the back due to his lack of defensive options.

Hasenhuttl will hope that Ryan Bertrand, Cedric Soares and Danny Ings are all able to make their return from injury for Sunday's match.

Jack Stephens may return to the starting lineup should Soares miss out, but Hasenhuttl could opt to keep changes to a minimum for his second game in charge.

Southampton possible starting lineup:
McCarthy; Soares, Bednarek, Vestergaard, Bertrand; Hojbjerg, Romeu, Lemina; Redmond, Armstrong, Austin

Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Leno; Bellerin, Koscielny, Monreal, Kolasinac; Torreira, Xhaka; Iwobi, Ramsey, Aubameyang; Lacazette

Head To Head

Sunday's contest will represent the 96th competitive meeting between the two clubs, with Arsenal registering 49 wins in comparison to 20 victories for Southampton.

The Saints have had joy in this fixture since the start of the 2014-15 campaign with five triumphs coming from 11 encounters, but Arsenal head into this game having not lost in the four most recent clashes.

The Gunners have recorded two wins and a draw from their last three trips to Southampton, with Olivier Giroud netting a late equaliser in the corresponding fixture 12 months ago.

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We say: Southampton 1-3 Arsenal

Hasenhuttl will be expecting a performance full of commitment and desire from his new side, but you cannot back against Arsenal in this game. The North London outfit are finding goals easy to come by, and we expect that to continue on the south coast.

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Arsenal's Emile Smith Rowe celebrates opening the scoring against Vorskla Poltava on November 29, 2018
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