Southampton’s torrid start to the Premier League season looks set to continue as they travel to the Emirates to face Arsenal (3pm BST, Saturday).
They have already lost to both Manchester clubs within their first three games and the draw could not have been harsher on newly-promoted Saints.
However they went down fighting, losing both games 3-2 after being 2-1 up in each with 20 minutes to go. But the table still says they are yet to register a point and they are already 11/10 favourites to go down in the bookies’ relegation betting market. A prime reason for that and the real concern for manager Nigel Adkins was the poor performance in their 2-0 defeat at home to Wigan.
On the positive side, Southampton have turned heads with their attacking intent and quality in front of goal. This early season form also saw Adam Lallana called into the England squad for their match against Ukraine on Tuesday. Although the youngster didn’t get on the field to make his debut, just being in and around the England set-up would have done wonders for his confidence. He will need every bit of that against a stronger than usual Arsenal defence.
No matter how Arsenal had started the season, the question was always going to be how would they cope without their former Captain and last season’s top goal scorer Robin Van Persie. His departure shouldn’t have affected The Gunners as much as the losses they have suffered in recent years. After all Arsene Wenger realised the inevitable as early as June, when the player failed to sign a new contract.
The loss of Alex Song to Barcelona may hurt Arsenal more in the long term, as he had matured incredibly in the last two seasons. They will miss his great passing and goal scoring proficiency as well as his strong defensive capabilities.
Arsenal did bring in a wealth of talent over the summer, but it took them a full 200 minutes on the pitch to gel sufficiently enough to muster a goal. Goalless draws against Sunderland and Stoke were followed by a 2-0 win at Liverpool. It does mean that Arsenal are the only team in the League who are yet to concede a goal after the opening three weeks, a trait not associated with Arsenal teams of the past.
Arsenal have also had to cope without both first choice goalkeepers, but Vito Mannone has stood in admirably. Fabianski and Szczesny face stiff competition when they regain fitness. The return of Jack Wilshere later this month after almost a year out will be a huge boost to Arsenal, but in his absence Abou Diaby has rediscovered form, earning him a call-up to the French national side. Diaby scored against Finland last week but picked up an injury that may well rule him out of this game.
Betting Tips Verdict
Southampton look good in front of goal, but it is in defence that they have struggled, leaking eight goals in three games. In contrast Arsenal are yet to concede, and this is a great opportunity for the likes of Giroud, Podolski, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Carzola to cut loose as an attacking quartet.