Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Arsenal's Trip To Southampton Previewed

Arsenal's hopes of a top four finish this season are still just about alive, but it's last chance saloon with every single game at this stage. Any defeat would surely be the final nail in the coffin for a top four finish and with it a place in next season's Champions League. As it is Liverpool have to draw one of their remaining games and City lose one for us to have a hope of catching either of them.

Liverpool only have two games left to play and their opponents in those games are hardly world beaters, but they have shown they are capable of making just as much a mess of things as we are in recent weeks. City's finish is even easier and even if they do lose a game they hold a nine goal advantage on goal difference and we would have to hand out some hefty beatings in our last four games. It's all still possible though and as long as it is mathematically possible I won't give up all hope.

The biggest problem is we have two away games in a row and our away form is absolutely awful at the moment. We have taken 13 from the last 15 points available at home and our last two games are at home, but before them there's tonight's trip to Southampton and a trip to Stoke on Saturday. We have lost five of our last six away games and our only win in those games was against a Boro team who will be in the Championship next season after their defeat at Chelsea on Monday night.

Southampton might not have the best home record this season with only three other teams gaining less points at home and only the two relegated teams scoring less goals at home, but it's a ground where we have struggled in recent seasons. A reserve Arsenal side won 5-0 there in the cup in January, but we suffered an embarrassing 4-0 defeat at the same ground in the league last season. We have found it hard to break this Southampton team down all too often and Fraser Forster seems to have an inspired game every time he plays us.

We put a hoodoo to bed on Sunday when we beat a Jose Mourinho team in the league for the first time even if the performance was hardly inspired. His excuses and insults aimed at the Arsenal fans after the game were no more than you would expect from a lowlife like him and I have no doubt he thought he could get a result despite the changes he made to his team. As bad as this season has been it would look an awful lot better if United somehow or other contrived not to win the Europa League in a few weeks.

I can't imagine there will be too many changes from the team that beat United as long as Laurent Koscielny and Granit Xhaka are both passed fit to play. If Xhaka doesn't make it we cannot afford to play Francis Coquelin in the team as he contributes nothing besides his defensive attributes in midfield and our players have to be able to offer more. That would mean Mohamed Elneny might get a rare appearance and I think he's certainly more capable of doing the job than Coquelin. The potential replacement for Koscielny worries me and I just hope he's passed fit to play.

I imagine we're stuck on a back three and I just hope the players keep growing into this formation because I'm still far from convinced by it. However, we're just as unconvincing with a back four so I suppose we might as well get in as much practice as we can for the formation we appear to favour for the cup final against Chelsea in two and a half weeks.It's up to us to stop them doing the double and I just hope we can raise our game on that day to a level we haven't seen in far too long.

As for tonight, I think it's going to be a low scoring affair and Southampton showed how tight they can be at the back in their 0-0 draw at Liverpool on Sunday. We need to score first or I think we will be too open to the break and Southampton will pick us off if they do go ahead. We must be due a performance from Alexis Sanchez who just hasn't been at the races in terms of goals and assists in recent week, but he keeps trying. If he can pull one out of the top drawer I think we might just keep our hopes alive ahead of a trip to Stoke on Saturday.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

No comments:

Post a Comment