|Arsenal 2 v 0 Southampton|
Barclays Premier League
Sunday, 24th February 2019 Kick-off 14:05
Saints At Arsenal The Preview
Saturday, 23rd Feb 2019 10:52
Saints travel to The Emirates knowing that after Friday nights results a draw will see them pull out of the bottom three, can they get it or perhaps more.
Saints form away is in many respects is better than their home form and that could be because it suits them to play on the back foot and then go on the break and this will surely be the case against Arsenal.
We haven't won in the league at Arsenal since 1988 so it is about time that we did so again, in that time it has been a fixture that ironically given our penchant for doing so this season littered with late goals by the home side that have robbed us of not only a draw but a win and that was the case last season when we came oh so close to a draw before a 81st minute winner and two years ago only a controversial injury time penalty gave the gunners victory.
So will this be our year ? Ralph Hasenhuttl has two problems before the game starts, who does he play at the back and who does he play up front.
At the back the choice seems to be between whether to reinstate Yoshida for his first Saints game in almost two months due to International duty, that looks likely after Jack Stephens errors in the last two games.
Up front it is another disappointment with Danny Ings not likely to be back in contention for another fortnight at least, but Hasenhuttl does have more options here after revealing that Michael Obafemi is now fully fit and showing no signs of the issues that have kept him out of the side for two months, I would not expect the youngster to start, but he wil be a good option off the bench.
Shane Long has been much maligned by some but he has a lot to offer especially away from home where as at Leicester he has been a big part of a good performance.
Charlie Austin should not be written off either, yes he isn't up to 90 minutes these days and not truly suited to Ralph's style of play, but as he showed in the home fixture against the Gunners , coming off the bench for 25 minutes or so he can play a big part in the final part of the season, he is a goal scorer and those who seem to think that every player in the squad has to be a 90 minute athlete need to realise that modern football is a squad game and it's about using the squad.
Finally the question is whether this might be the time to put Angus Gunn back in the side, Alex McCarthy has not looked confident of late and been commanding in the box and we need that.
This fixture can suit Saints, our problems have been often caused on the break, where when we sit deep we can sit deep defend and go on the break, although we are lacking a striker who can both work hard and score goals without Danny Ings, we have players who can go on the break such as Nathan Redmond and he again could be crucial in this fixture.
Friday nights fixtures went well for Saints Cardiff were slaughtered at home by Watford suggesting that emotion has carried them through their last two games, but that has now subsided and they are not a great side.
Likewise Fulham they lost at West Ham so remain 7 points behind us, if we can stretch that on Sunday that gives us a great platform for their visit on Wednesday.
The defeat to Cardiff was a setback but we should remember it was our first defeat in the League of 2019, we have tough fixtures coming up but there is no reason why we should not get a point or two from the tough ones and then we have to do the job against the likes of Fulham, Brighton and Huddersfield.
We have now entered the final third of the season, it needs unity not division, we are in a relegation scrap for our form in the first third of the season, ourr second third has been good and now we just need to repeat the points ratio in this final phase and we will be safe and ready to build for next season.
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