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Arsenal vs. Southampton: Match preview

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Road trip!

WE ARE THE BEST FRIENDS THAT ANYONE CAN BE
WE ARE THE BEST FRIENDS THAT ANYONE CAN BE
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Arsenal vs. Southampton
English Premier League
Thursday, January 1, 2015
7AM PT/10AM ET/3PM BT
St. Mary's Stadium, Southampton
League Form: ARS swimming nervously without water wings | SOU Swimming well at the moment but starting to cramp
US TV: Premier League Extra Time | Worldwide TV info livesoccertv.com

The "festive period" comes to a close in different ways for different groups of people. For a lot of us, January 1st means a day off work, and sports on TV while trying to figure out how to get rid of the hangover acquired by the previous night's activities. For the English Premier League, and thus for Arsenal, it means business as usual - a full slate of 10 games to close out the dumbest stretch in the English calendar.

Speaking of dumb, Olivier Giroud is serving the second of his three-match ban for being stupid; other than that, Arsenal are pretty much going with the status quo from West Ham, save Welbeck who may miss this game, and will have the luxury, for once, of a fully fit first-choice defensive corps.  It's been a while since "fully fit" has been applicable to any part of Arsenal's team, so it's nice to see that all of Wenger's best defenders will be available.

Hopefully the rest of the team will still have something in the tank to face a Southampton team who will be missing the perpetually-linked-with-Arsenal midfield target Etienne Capoue Yann M'Vila Morgan Schneiderlin due to his own red card from Christmas week; Carl Jenkinson will also not play because his loan says he can't. (Edit: Whoopsadoodle)

Arsenal, in case you haven't noticed, are on a good run of form lately - two losses in their last 10 games. The slow start of the season seems to be fading into the distance - obviously Arsenal aren't championship contenders at this point, but they're playing a lot better than they were in September/October, they're winning games despite playing less-than-perfect soccer, and my hope is that 2015 sees a continuation of that trend, starting tomorrow.