Arsenal might need a victory after two consecutive draws when they face Southampton in their penultimate Premier League match before the vital trip to Manchester City on Friday. Victory against the bottom-placed team would give them a seven-point lead before heading north, a vital boost on a weekend when City’s emphasis is on an FA Cup quarterfinal.
Still, Southampton should be aware that they are one of just three clubs, along with Manchester City and Newcastle, who the Gunners have yet to defeat this season, despite a 1-1 draw at St. Mary’s in October. However, it was two managers ago, and the combined efforts of Ralph Hasenhuttl, Nathan Jones, and current incumbent Ruben Selles have only resulted in an 11-point improvement. If the Saints don’t start adding to that total soon, they’ll be on their way to the Championship. Here’s how to watch the game and everything you should know:
• Friday, April 21 | 3 p.m. ET • Venue: Emirates Stadium, London • TV: USA | Live stream: fuboTV (free trial)
• Arsenal -550, Draw +600, Arsenal +1400 (through Caesars Sportsbook).
Arsenal: The fact that Arsenal has drawn successive away games against Liverpool and West Ham reflects on the ridiculous, possibly unattainable, standards that Manchester City has set since Abu Dhabi’s investment in the team. Arteta, a former City staffer who now works as Pep Guardiola’s assistant, was upbeat in his pre-match news conference, maintaining that the four points relinquished were normal at this juncture in the season.
“Twists and turns are part of anything you do, especially football,” Arteta added. “Whatever the goal or target is, it will not progress in a linear fashion.” You have to be aware of it and prepare for it, and the way the squad has responded this week has been really good, and we want to see that again tomorrow night.”
William Saliba is still out with a back injury that might keep him out for the rest of the season, while Oleksandr Zinchenko’s health is also in question after returning to training following a groyne injury. Arsenal’s Rob Holding and Kieran Tierney fail to provide anything like the same ball development, and the Gunners will be hoping for a better showing against the league’s weakest team.
Southampton: With seven games remaining in the Premier League season, the standings looks bleak. Southampton are four points adrift, and although that deficit is not insurmountable, outcomes have fallen into an all-too-familiar rhythm of late, with four of the previous five games concluding in loss, after a brief period of upheaval around Jones’ dismissal and Selles’ hiring. It doesn’t help the manager that he’s still without his best striker and centre defender in Che Adams and Mohammed Salisu, however no team in London will be happy to face Mislav Orsic, who used to have a tendency of winning important games against capital competition when at Dinamo Zagreb.
“We are hurting – all of us,” Selles said of Southampton’s efforts to avoid relegation. “We’re just putting in so much effort to try to change things.” Every game that ends in a tie is difficult, and we are wounded. And this is something we feel, and people should not be misled into thinking that when we lose, everyone feels horrible, and everyone works hard.”
Will Arsenal falter if they go two up? Quite likely, but they should have enough in the tank to beat Southampton. PREDICTION: Arsenal 3, Southampton 1.
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