Arsenal make the trip to Southampton this evening as they try for their fifth Premier League win in a row. This season Arsenal have been far from their best far too often, but 12 points from four games is a great return. Only Chelsea can match Arsenal for points in those games and they will continue to progress as long as they keep winning.
Arsenal have had their defensive woes at times this season, but only City, Chelsea and Stoke have conceded less goals than them. In fact Arsenal have conceded less goals away from home than any other team in the league. Their problems away from home have been in trying to score goals.
Their return of 14 goals in 10 away games isn't too bad, but they have managed 25 goals at home in the same amount of games. Arsenal have struggled to break down very defensive teams at times this season, but I don't think Southampton will play that way. Southampton's strength is in their attacking and I would be surprised if they didn't have a go at Arsenal.
If Arsenal can approach the game in the right manner and work hard enough they could benefit from Southampton's approach. Arsenal have shown a few times this season exactly how good they can be going forward and Southampton were on the receiving end of a 6-1 defeat at the Emirates in September. Since then Arsenal have scored five goals twice and put seven past Newcastle last Saturday.
With games coming thick and fast at the moment there is a chance Arsene Wenger will make a few changes for today's game. If he has recovered from his illness Per Mertesacker certainly has to be considered as he has been Arsenal's best defender this season. Aaron Ramsey, Olivier Giroud, Tomas Rosicky and Gervinho will all feel they are entitled to start the game too.
I would like to see as few changes as possible from the team that ended up beating Newcastle so comprehensively. Tiredness may not be such a big factor with Arsenal as their game last Wednesday with West Ham was postponed. There is also the matter of an FA Cup third round trip to Swansea this coming weekend to consider when the team is selected.
The FA Cup might not be Arsenal's first choice in terms of priorities but as it stands it is by far their best hope of a trophy this season. Of course the boss considers a top four finish to be a trophy of sorts so I would expect him to field the strongest side he can this evening.
In a season that has been topsy turvy for Arsenal the confidence that five league wins in a row brings can't be underestimated. After the Swansea game there are league games at home to City and away to Chelsea and it would be great to go into those games on a high. They will be real tests of exactly how good this Arsenal team is while the transfer window is still open.
I expect Southampton to give Arsenal a tough test today, but equally I'm hopeful Arsenal will be more than up to it. Player for player they are better than Southampton and they need to earn the right to show it. That right will be earned by putting in the hard work required in every single Premier League game.
I'm predicting a 2-1 win for Arsenal but it could be more if they are the ones to take the lead first. They showed against Newcastle how good they can be on the break and they could get those opportunities again if they go ahead today.
Finally for today I would like to wish all my readers a very happy New Year and hopefully it will be one laden with glory for Arsenal.
That's it for today.
See you tomorrow.