Gunners looking for New Year cheer at St Mary's
Gunners looking for New Year cheer at St Mary’s

Southampton versus Arsenal Thursday 1 January 2015: Match Preview

Arsenal start 2015 with a visit to St Mary’s to take on Southampton in the Premier League tomorrow afternoon.

The Gunners go into the match level on points with the Saints, but behind their  hosts on goal difference in fifth place.

Form guide

Southampton are showing a return to the early season form that has seen them riding high in the Premier League table.

They secured a point against league leaders Chelsea on Sunday, which followed up impressive wins over Everton and Crystal Palace.

Arsenal have scored two goals in each of their last three Premier League away games (and have won one, drawn one and lost one).

Southampton team news
Ronald Koeman has confirmed he will have the same squad available to him for the game against Arsenal as he did for Chelsea, other than Morgan Schneiderlin who is suspended. Nathaniel Clyne is still out injured.

Arsenal team news

Arsenal striker Danny Welbeck (thigh) is a doubt for the Barclays Premier League trip to Southampton on New Year’s Day.

Forward Olivier Giroud continues to serve a three-match suspension, so Theo Walcott or Lukas Podolski could come into the attack.

Czech midfielder Tomas Rosicky is expected back in the squad having been rested for the midweek win at West Ham, but Aaron Ramsey (hamstring), Mikel Arteta (calf), Mesut Ozil (knee), Abou Diaby (calf), Jack Wilshere (ankle) and Serge Gnabry (knee) all remain sidelined.

Provisional Squad: Szczesny, Debuchy, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Gibbs, Coquelin, Flamini, Rosicky, Cazorla, Sanchez, Welbeck, Ospina, Walcott, Podolski, Monreal, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Chambers, Campbell, Akpom.

Managerial quotes
Ronald Koeman: “We know the strengths and weaknesses of Arsenal, they know it exactly the same for us. Playing against Arsenal means that you always get space to play because they are an offensive team.
“They have great individual qualities but we know we can beat them. We showed that and now we play at home and maybe that will be a little bit more comfortable for us.”
Arsene Wenger: “Southampton are a good team who have been in the top four since the start of the season – after 19 games that’s not a coincidence, so we have to consider that they are a good side.
“We played them twice [this season] and they were two difficult games. They are a balanced team with a good midfield and quality strikers. They have a good stability from last season at the back and in midfield.”
Key players
Southampton
Sadio Mane is in impressive form having struck in back-to-back games, while each of top scorer Graziano Pelle’s last seven league goals for the club have all come at home.
Arsenal
Alexis Sanchez has netted in each of his two appearances against Southampton at the Emirates this season. Scoring a spectacular free kick in the 2-1 defeat in the Capital One Cup in September, and an eighty-ninth minute winner in the Premier League clash at the beginning of December.

Alexis Sanchez though has only scored one goal in his last five Premier League appearances.

But he has scored or assisted 47 per cent of Arsenal’s Premier League goals this season (16 of 34).

Santi Cazorla is playing a key role in Arsenal’s return to winning ways. He netted for the fourth time in five matches aginst WEt Ham on Sunday and earned a higher rating than any other Premier League player in December from WhoScored (8.21).

Cazorla scored on his last visit to St Mary’s, with his strike cancelled out by an Adam Lallana equaliser minutes later in an entertaining 2-2 draw last season.

Head-to-head

Southampton have failed to beat Arsenal in the Premier League since 2002, but were triumphant in a League Cup match earlier this season. Nathaniel Clyne blasts the Saints’ winning goal past Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez during a 2-1 victory at the Emirates Stadium in a third round clash

Arsenal have lost just one of their six trips to St Mary’s but the last three have been draws.

Arsenal have scored two goals in each of their last three Premier League away games (and have won one, drawn one and lost one).

Alexis Sanchez has only scored one goal in his last five Premier League appearances.

But Sanchez has scored or assisted 47 per cent of Arsenal’s Premier League goals this season (16 of 34).

Southampton have faced a league-low 174 shots at their goal, while Arsenal have conceded the next fewest (191).

Key match stats (supplied by Opta)

Southampton are without a win in 10 Premier League meetings with the Gunners (D4 L6).

Olivier Giroud has scored three goals in two Premier League starts against Saints.

Arsene Wenger has come up against Ronald Koeman on eight occasions, winning just two matches, drawing four and losing two.

Arsenal have won seven and lost just one of their nine New Year’s Day fixtures in Premier League history. The one draw came away against Southampton in 2013.

There have been five red cards in just six Premier League meetings between Arsenal and Southampton at St Mary’s.