Southampton: McCarthy; Walker-Peters, Bednarek, Vestergaard, Bertrand; Walcott, Ward-Prowse, Diallo, Armstrong; Adams, Ings
Arsenal: Leno; Bellerin, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney; Partey, Xhaka, Smith Rowe; Saka, Lacazette, Martinelli
Southampton vs Arsenal Score Prediction
It can’t be much worse, can it?
Arsenal did have their chances in the FA Cup. Not clear-cut, glorious opportunities, but worthwhile efforts at goal. They outperformed the Saints on xG and Eddie Nketiah fired wide when well placed late on, yet the overall consensus (correctly) was that was another limp, underwhelming display.
But it won’t be this time! Will it? Will it?
The overriding emotions are that it won’t, no, and that is entirely down to the personnel who will come into the side. In the short spell he was on the field in the FA Cup, Thomas Partey already assumed the role of Arsenal’s best player on the day. He brought energy in midfield, quickness of thought and classy strokes of the ball. Just a cut above from the rest.
Cedric’s delivery was laughable from the left-back position, thus with Kieran Tierney returning to provide balance and accuracy on the ball Arsenal will be substantially more threatening.
Bukayo Saka had to slot in at full-back late on and Emile Smith Rowe didn’t feature at all, and with those two on the pitch Arsenal’s movement of possession and running off the ball is miles superior.
The notion of freshness could come into play too, as Southampton will field an almost identical side from the last meeting whereas Arsenal will make anywhere up to seven alterations. It’s risky and self-destructive to expect an entirely different performance from the hosts as a result. If anything, they didn’t even need to be at their best to win last time. Their pressing was effective but nowhere near the high intensity levels they’re capable of.
In Partey Arsenal have someone to break that press. Someone to burst beyond lines in his own third and open the game up. It could decide the game.