Southampton vs. Arsenal
Arsene Wenger will hope for a similar performance from Theo Walcott after he scored three and set up one more in his side’s 7-3 thrashing of Newcastle United on New Year’s Day as his side travel to the south coast to take on Southampton at St. Mary’s Stadium, looking for the three points that will take them back to the top four and a UEFA Champions League spot with both Tottenham Hotspur and Everton both playing matches that could be potentially banana skins for them.
And Wenger will also be looking for a rare clean sheet against one of the weakest offences in the Premier League after again conceding three goals against a misfiring Newcastle United forward line. Although it is fact that he was missing first choice centre back in German international Per Mertesacker for the match that will be no excuse for a side that is chasing a spot in next season’s UEFA Champions League. Moreover, the Frenchman will have a lot to ponder on after Theo Walcott put on another master class performance as his contract situation with the members of the Arsenal board still in dispute.
The Gunners will also hope that the south coast side doesn’t pull out another shock as they did against Stoke City over the weekend when they took a 3-1 lead against the meanest defense of the Premier League only to squander it in the last few minutes to end the match with a 3-3 draw and a solitary point that sees them drop back into the relegation zone. In Gaston Ramirez, they have one of the best creative playmakers in the Premier League and the goal he scored in the previous match was testament to the fact that he can pull off the miraculous with ease and that is something the poor defense of the Gunners needs to be wary of.
Other than that, Arsenal’s midfield has been performing like a well-oiled machine over the last few weeks and it seems that Wenger has finally found a stable midfield combination with Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta at the heart of it and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain to call upon when necessary. With French striker Olivier Giroud and German international Lukas Podolski all finding their feet slowly in the Premier League, Wenger might finally have a side capable of challenging for titles if they can be consistent against the smaller sides.