Bruised, battered and humiliated, Arsenal will seek for redemption when they take on Southampton at St. Mary’s Stadium today. Mikel Arteta’s men have lost both their Premier League fixtures after the break and their chance of finishing inside the top six is clearly diminishing.
Southampton, on the other hand, has resumed their season with some style, having secured a 0-3 away win at the Carrow Road on Friday. Just three points separate Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men from the tenth spot in the league standings and they are expected to go out with their guns blazing against Arsenal.
Let us take a look at the three key battles which could have an impact on the outcome
Danny Ings vs Rob Holding
Southampton striker Danny Ings has been in red-hot form this season, having plundered 16 goals in 30 Premier League games so far. The 27-year-old found the back of the net against the Canaries and must be brimming with confidence at the prospect of facing a beleaguered Arsenal defence.
Arteta’s backline looks shaky at the moment and a lot will hinge on how Rob Holding discharges his duties as a central defender. Holding will be entrusted with the responsibility of keeping Ings at bay and restrict him from making darting runs, and their clash will be undoubtedly an intriguing affair.
Jack Stephens vs Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Arsenal’s attackers have been wasteful upfront following the resumption of the top-flight season, which has been instrumental in piling pressure on the rest of the players. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has failed to make the most of the opportunities he has received and is under immense pressure to carve his name on the score sheet.
He will come up against Jack Stephens, who happens to be one of the most reliable defenders in Hasenhuttl’s armoury. However, Stephens has to be wary of Aubameyang as he will be desperate to punish Southampton with his ability to pop up in the right areas and clinical goal-scoring skills.
James Ward-Prowse vs Matteo Guendouzi
The midfield battle between James Ward-Prowse and Matteo Guendouzi could go a long way in deciding the final outcome of the upcoming clash. Both of them play a pivotal role in making swift transitions from defence to attack, which is why they are important players for their respective sides.
Guendouzi is an astute passer of the ball and thrives with a lot of grit and perseverance. Meanwhile, Ward-Prowse has made 2.4 tackles and 1.5 interceptions per game on an average in the league and it goes without saying that he will leave no stone unturned to foil Guendouzi’s plans to wrest control of the midfield area.
Statistics Credits: WhoScored