Can Gunners avoid yet another gunning down?
Southampton welcome Arsenal down to the south coast on Thursday evening during matchday 31 of the Premier League. Both teams can be found languishing around mid-table with only 3 points separating them, an unthinkable thought prior to the seasons start.
Southampton shook off the cobwebs following the mandatory lockdown and sprang back to action with a very solid 0-3 victory against Norwich. The Canaries might be the worst team in the league but Danny Ing's and co. got the job done in an effective and impressive fashion.
However, there was a time a win like this was far from anyones mind. The Saints kicked off the season in horrible fashion securing only 8 points (2 wins and 2 draws) from their first 12 games leaving them dangerously far down the standings, but, a mid-season revival changed everything.
It all came together after Ralph Hasenhüttl's men drew 2-2 at Arsenal after conceding a 96th minute goal, the confidence gained from that point proved absolutely pivotal in changing the course of their, so far, catastrophic season. Since that drab November night Southampton have managed 9 wins and 2 draws from their last 17 games including wins against Chelsea, Tottenham and Leicester which no one would have believed to be remotely possible after the Saints lost the first fixture against Leicester with 9-0((!)AT HOME) a few weeks prior.
Best possible time to face Arsenal
They now face a depleted Arsenal side only 3 points above them and feel nearly obliged to take a point or perhaps even 3 from the wounded Gunners. Funny how things change.
There is an absolute abundance, a tsunami if you will, of things to say about the former powerhouse that is Arsenal at the moment. What a shambolic, disgraceful showing against Brighton. An absolute embarrassment.
We can start off by saying that they, at absolute most, deserved a point against Brighton but i can hardly imagine anyone claiming the defeat was unwarranted. The defence was yet again all over the place and the only way they could score was courtesy of some individual brilliance from Pépé who was otherwise having a very quiet night.
Secondly, you know something is wrong with the culture at a club when the only players to show some fighting spirit after Bernd Leno was so unnecessarily pushed by the extremely distasteful Neal Maupay was Leno himself from the stretcher and the 21 year old kid Guendouzi. Calling it embarrassing to watch is an understatement at best.
My fourth and final negative paragraph is more just thinking out loud. The most glaring problem the Gunners have other than their defence is that they so obviously lack a creator, a playmaker that can split defences in two and hold the ball when the time is right, like De Bruyne, Bruno Fernandes or even Jack Grealish. But wait.. what about Mesut Özil? The German international might not currently be on the same level he operated at a couple of years ago but he is still by and far the best, and only, playmaker Arsenal have. It might be the short-term solution for an Arsenal side so badly lacking going forward.
It must however be said that Mikel Arteta's side has been exposed to an unprecedented amount of bad luck with a handful of players not allowed to train before the City game due to a false Corona test, the injuries and sending off in the same game followed by a horrific injury to arguably their best player against Brighton.
Not all doom and gloom
Despite all the negativity, Arsenal have overall improved under Arteta and were on a great run of form prior to the Corona outbreak. Another aspect that speaks volumes is the fact that they have managed to score in all but 6 games this season so you can never really count them out (except against Manchester City and Liverpool).
Given that Arsenal and Southampton combined have seen both teams score in 37 of their games the stand out bet for this one is Both teams to score and over 2.5 goals at the lovely odds of 2.05 with Betway.