Arsenal have exhausted their room for error in the Premier League title chase. The Gunners still control their own destiny to win the league, but they cannot afford to drop any more points. That quest for perfection down the stretch starts tonight, when Southampton visit the Emirates. It’s a battle between the absolute top of the PL and the very bottom.
The Saints are in trouble. 538.com has them at 91% to be relegated. They’re without a win in their last 6 matches and are tied for the fewest goals scored in the Premier League this season (24). But Arsenal cannot get complacent. In that six-match stretch, the Saints drew Spurs 3-3 and Manchester United 0-0. Earlier this season, they drew the Gunners 1-1 at St. Mary’s Park. They can be frisky. All it takes is a James Ward Prowse set piece or two and / or a mistake from the defense, which with William Saliba out the Gunners seem frustratingly prone to making, and it’ll be a street fight.
But in all honesty, Arsenal should handle Southampton at home. Even though the Gunners have twice surrendered 2-0 leads, they looked lethal in jumping out to those advantages. The attack should carve open the Saints’ defense. And hopefully after two damaging setbacks that Mikel Arteta attributed to losing focus and getting away from their gameplan, Arsenal will have learned their lesson not to let off in the slightest.
I think we see a Gunners side determined to prove the last two results were aberrations and to restate their claim to the top spot in the Premier League. It’s Arsenal’s final match before the likely title-deciding tilt at the Etihad against Manchester City on April 26th, and the Gunners will want to be at their best today to presage being at their best on Wednesday. Today’s contest could get out of hand. I can see Arsenal putting 4 or 5 past Gavin Bazunu.
Arsenal will once again be without William Saliba, whose lower back injury requires daily treatment and monitoring. There seems to be an outside shot that he’ll be available for that crucial match against Manchester City, but it’s looking increasingly less likely by the day. Alex Zinchenko, who missed out against West Ham with a slight groin problem, traveled with the team and could be available. Takehiro Tomiyasu and Mohamed Elneny are both out for the season.
UPDATE: Granit Xhaka misses out through illness.
The Saints will be without Che Adams, Mohammed Salisu, and Juan Larios. Tino Livramento will likely miss out as well. Ainsley Maitland-Niles is ineligible to play against his parent club. Mislav Orsic, who has been out with a hip issue, should be available for selection.
Arsenal - Ramsdale, White, Holding, Gabriel, Zinchenko, Partey, Vieira, Ødegaard, Saka, Jesus, Martinelli
⚪️— Arsenal (@Arsenal) April 21, 2023
Vieira in midfield
️ Saka in attack
Let’s get back to winning ways, together! pic.twitter.com/VK0bayYcBn
Southampton - Bazunu, Walker-Peters, Bella-Kotchap, Bednarek, Perraud, Lavia, Ward-Prowse, Elyounoussi, Alcaraz, Walcott, Armstrong
WHAT: Arsenal vs Southampton
WHERE: The Emirates
WHEN: Friday, April 21st, 12 pm PT | 3 pm ET | 8 pm BT
HOW TO WATCH: Broadcast live on USA. Streaming live on NBCSports.com
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