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A couple of weeks ago I would not have given Arsenal a chance in this fixture against Southampton, but as I write this I have a different take on this one. The sides meet in the FA Cup this Saturday at 12:15 and then meet again in the same venue on Tuesday evening in the Premier League.
Arsenal’s FA Cup record is second to none, literally, as they have lifted the title a record 14-times. It’s fair to assume Mikel Arteta won’t be winning the league anytime soon, so I expect his side to be very competitive in the cup competitions they are left in.
Arsenal are on the up and I really liked what I saw from both Emile Smith-Rowe, Thomas Partey and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang recently. Partey, who has just returned from injury, looks a serious player and will get even better and more influential once he gets more minutes into his legs.
Saturday 12:15 – Southampton v Arsenal
BT Sport 1
When the sides last met at St Mary’s, the Gunners were 2-0 winners and that was in the Premier League in June 2020. Danny Ings is the main reason visiting teams fear Southampton, but the English striker has enjoyed a tough few weeks with both a positive Covid-19 test and now speculation over his long-term future with the club.
If Danny Ings plays will he be firing on all cyclinders? I’m not so sure. There has been many examples of Post Covid fatigue and loss of form. Paul Pogba being the prime example there, up until Wednesday night pf course. Are the Saints as good without an in-form Ings in the side? I don’t think so.
Both Teams to Score and an Arsenal win is my first selection for this game. The vistors will have too much pace and firepower on the night for Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men. However, if you look at the Saints record in-terms of scoring against the big six this season – they have managed to score once against Liverpool and more than once against Manchester United, Chelsea and Spurs.
They are well capable of scoring against this Gunners defence, and if Ings doesn’t start have a look at James Ward-Prowse. His ability from set pieces with that wand of a right foot is remarkable and don’t forget, he scored on Tuesday night against Shrewsbury Town from a dead ball.
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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is back amongst the goals recently and he has hit three in two games against Newcastle in the past fortnight. The Gabon striker has eight goals in all competition so far this term (which is quiet by his standards), but looks to be back on the goal trail. I fancy him in the Anytime Goalscorer market as a confident Aubameyang is one of the best finishers out there.
I would be going for two players in particular to be booked. The ‘Swiss Vinny Jones’ AKA Granit Xhaka is always good for a card in fiery contest. I would also strongly fancy Oriel Romeu for a booking if he returns to the fold after a short lay-off. The former Chelsea man likes to leave his stud marks on opponents who are an inconvenience to him.
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