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Southampton 0 v 2 Arsenal
Barclays Premier League
Thursday, 25th June 2020 Kick-off 18:00
Saints V Arsenal The Preview
Thursday, 25th Jun 2020 10:21

Saints kick off their home campaign of the re start against Arsenal at St Mary's this evening what can the watching millions on TV expect, will it be a push for the top 10 or mid table obscurity in the final 8 games of the season.

Saints win over Norwich aligned with results elsewhere has brought us breathing space and a chance to play without fear, we go into tonight's game a full 10 points clear of the bottom 4 and with a game in hand, meaning that a win tonight will just about see us home, although in truth I would be surprised if anyone goes down on 37 points come the final table, but we still need to get that 40 point target just to make sure, hit that and it's is hard to see two of the bottom 4 winning 5 out of 7.

But if we win it then we are on the edge of the top 10, we will go level on points with Arsenal, but unless we beat them by 7 we will be below them on goal difference, a win won't make our league position look much better on paper, but it will bring us within 4 points of Sheffield United in 8th place and 5 points of Spurs in 7th, it is hard but not impossible to surge to not only the top 10 but the top 7.

However to bring us back to earth, we all know we have defensive issues and they are not going to change overnight, but we have to work with what we have and hope that we can get away with a few things at the back and score a few at the other end.

I don't expect Ralph Hasenhuttl to deviate much from his starting line up against Norwich for the visit of the Gunners, at the back I think he will stick with the players from last Friday as he has no real choices otherwise, part of me things that perhaps Kyle Walker-Peters may get a game though.

In midfield it worked against the Canaries, so I cant see much change either but that is for good reasons, so that just leaves up front where Danny Ings is sure to start, but who will partner him.

Michael Obafemi is the leading candidate for his pace, but I felt against Norwich he lacked guile, he did not make the runs to offer an outlet or create space behind him, for me he was too reactive and not proactive, when he got the ball he made some good runs, but too often they lacked the end product either in front of goal or picking a pass, he is young and he will learn, but that might not mean he always starts.

Shane Long is fit and back in contention, but I don't think he will start, these days he is more an impact player off the bench, but he is still capable of making that impact, I would like to see Che Adams given a chance and I feel against Arsenal he could make an impact.

But overall I think that with Arsenal being so scared of pace at the back it will be Obafemi who will get the nod.

The Gunners have been getting a lot of stick after two straight defeats since the restart and they are in some disarray, however they still have a good squad and although David Luiz has received a lot of criticism for his display at Manchester City it really was no worse than we have had to watch this season at the back on more than one occasion, although he will not be available for this game.

So for the Gunners it is backs to the wall and a raft of injuries including the goalkeeper Leno, replacement Emiliano Martinez has been at the club 9 years and about to turn 28 in two months time has started just 3 Premier League games plus 2 off the bench including at Brighton on Saturday.

A series of loan spells only sporadically added to his total League appearances and 18 appearances in the second half of last season for Reading account for a third of his number, so he is in essence a bench warmer, can we use that to great effect and put pressure on him and a defence in front of him missing key figures.

Amazingly we have won more games than Arsenal this season, they have won only 9 compared to our 11, the difference is they don't lose so many, only 8 compared to our 15, but their away record is poor, they have won just twice and drawn 8, the 14 points being identical to the 14 points we have gained so far at home.

The record shows a story of a side who are playing without motivation, it is talented, but it is in transition and Mikel Arteta has not yet stamped his authority on the team, if indeed he can having only his 3 years as Pep Guardiola's assistant at Man City as experience and the issues at the Emirates are far different to those at the Etihad.

So on paper we have a great chance to get 3 points and take a big step towards the top 10, but we have our issues still and a wounded animal is a dangerous one and the Gunners are certainly backed into a corner at present.

Hopefully we can keep our concentration and the fact there will be no crowd might actually be a help

Photo: Action Images

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felly1 added 12:12 - Jun 25
I'd stick with Obafemi. As you say he has a lot to learn. We are safe and it's important to give the younger guys game time. Stick with them through some bad patches and loss of form. We will then reap the benefits. As we can see with the likes of Redmond and JPW.. Excellent performers now.

underweststand added 15:40 - Jun 25
Valery cost us the Newcastle game and made a few glaring mistakes in the Norwich game.
If Ralph is seriously considering signing KWP then the lad has to get some regular game time before the end of the season.
Arsenal's long injury list doesn't auger well for them and we really need to start winning at SMS more often. Once past the 40 point mark, expect to see a few young faces getting minutes in the remaining games before Ralph starts to plan his squad for next season.

Shane Long will feature in most games now (injuries permitting) but maybe only 60-70 mins and and the likes of Obafemi, Djenepo and Tella will get a little more game time and a chance for them to impress.

wibbersda added 16:03 - Jun 25
"Defensive Issues"..Really. You should have mentioned it before, Nick.

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