Arsenal are likely to field a very different team to the one that defeated Bournemouth at The Emirates on Sunday. Most of the starting XI will more than likely be benched in favour for the squad players and a smattering of youth products such as Maitland-Niles, Emiliano Martinez and Jeff Reine-Adelaide. Although Wenger will not want to lose the match, the League Cup is not Arsenal’s priority right now.
Southampton, on the other hand, are likely to field a stronger side and focus on the EFL Cup as an opportunity to claim some much overdue silverware. So while the playing personnel may be somewhat different from what you would expect to see in a Premier League encounter between the two sides, history and comparative form will still be a major psychological factor heading into the game.
FORM GUIDE – OVERALL
Arsenal’s overall form is impressive, and despite a sequence of draws in November, the side is undefeated following an opening day loss to Liverpool in the Premier League.
Southampton, on the other hand, have lost to Chelsea at home and Hull City away in the last month, two of their four losses in the Premier League. They are only two of four losses during this campaign, though, with the other two coming against Arsenal and Man United.
FORM GUIDE – HOME VS AWAY
With the exception of the aforementioned opening day defeat, Arsenal have grabbed 14 points from a possible 21 at home in the league this season.
In contrast three of the four defeats the Saints have suffered this season have been on the road, with away form an issue over the last 20 Premier League games. Over that period they have recorded a negative goal difference and in their last six away fixtures have only picked up five points.
A cause for encouragement among Southampton fans though is the fact that they have only conceded 22 goals in their last 20 games away from home. Moreover, the Saints have had a good record against Arsenal in recent years, winning twice, drawing once and of course the most recent loss in the last four game against Arsenal. Southampton also knocked Arsenal out of the League two seasons ago.
Arsenal’s strong home form is underlined by an average of nearly two goals per game over the last 20 home fixtures, albeit they will likely be without in-form striker, Alexis Sanchez.
Southampton’s defence has been marginally stronger than Arsenal’s in the last ten games, and if they’re to win tonight it will have to hold firm in repelling the home side’s attacks. In form defender, Virgil Van Dijk will be key to keeping Arsenal out of Southampton’s goal.
The Gunners are much stronger on the attacking front, but with many of the first choice goals scorers unlikely to start, it is uncertain as to where the goal threat will come from.
Arsenal’s side will be untested in this kind of encounter. Add into the fact that this is a cup game and the result is harder to call. Arsenal will likely have one major trump card, though, in the form of regular first-team players who can come off the bench and change the game.
A place in the semi-final and a step closer to the first domestic honours on the season awaits the winner…
Match preview and predictions provided by KickOff
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