For the third time in just over a month and the second time in three days, Southampton meet Arsenal on Tuesday night, looking to keep up their recent good record against the Gunners.
Of the two games already played between the sides this season, Saints are yet to lose to Mikel Arteta’s side, drawing the league game back in December, before knocking the Gunners out of the FA Cup at the weekend, thanks to an own goal from Gabriel.
The fact that Southampton won the game courtesy of an own goal is a sign of one of their recent struggles, having only scored two goals in their last six league games. Speaking of goals, Danny Ings’ future has became a talking point this month, with the England striker mentioning his ambition to play for a club in Europe – a subject Ralph Hassenhuttl has handled shrewdly, challenging him to score enough goals to fire Southampton there rather than seek a transfer.
Arsenal’s improvement since the turn of the year sees them going into this game knowing that a win will take them above Saints and into the top half of the Premier League for the first time in months. They’ll be hoping the form of Emile Smith-Rowe and Bukayo Saka can help them get there, as the pair of youngsters have been integral to the Gunners’ recent improvement.
The signing of Martin Odegaard should be complete in time for the game, but the Norwegian playmaker won’t be involved after joining until the end of the season from Real Madrid. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missed the FA Cup game at the weekend due to a personal issue, and is likely to miss out again.
Dani Ceballos is struggling with a calf injury and is rated 50/50, meaning a midfield partnership of Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey is expected from the start.
Things are worse for Southampton on the injury front, with ten first-teamers struggling with various issues. Jannik Vestergaard, Ryan Bertrand, Kyle Walker-Peters, Oriol Romeu, Moussa Djenepo, Michael Obafemi, Nathan Tella, Mohamed Salisu and Will Smallbone are all definitely missing. Nathan Redmond will be in the squad despite not being fully fit after injury.
If a patched-up Saints can get a win, they could move as high as sixth in the table ahead of another midweek fixture list, and ensure that the gap between themselves and the bottom half remains a healthy five points.
Southampton take on Arsenal at St Mary’s on Tuesday, January 26th. Kick-off is at 8.15pm.