The lauded Southampton team of 2014 seems to be a distant memory of the past. The Saints have fallen from grace and currently sit 14th in the Premier League, on 37 points. With just 2 wins in their last 5 Premier League games, and 6 points out of a possible 15, they host an incapacitated Arsenal side on Thursday, in their bid to secure a mid-table finish.
Coming off a 3-0 win against Norwich, Southampton will be confident of getting a result against a very underwhelming Arsenal side. Arsenal will be without key players with Leno, Martinelli, Torreira and Mari set to miss the clash due to injury. With gaping holes in the squad and players underperforming, this seems to be an opportune time for the Saints to steal 3 points off of an already wounded team.
Things might be looking good for a man who has finally found his form – Danny Ings. The English striker has 16 goals and 2 assists in the league this season and will be looking to add to his tally against an Arsenal defense that is leaking goals at the minute. They were absolutely dreadful against Brighton, the team static and devoid of any passion or fighting spirit.
If they were to put out the same disgraceful performance,the likes of Jame Ward-Prowse, Nathan Redmond and Danny Ings will make them pay. However the return of Sokratis and the midweek madness might prove to be motivation for Arsenal who could begin salvaging the season from this point on.
Funnily enough if Southampton were to beat Arsenal, both the sides would be level on 40 points each. Arsenal would be above the Saints, lest the latter beat the Gunners by a 14 goal margin, something that might not be impossible if David Luiz were on the pitch. On the other hand, these are the games that players like Aubameyang and Pepe thrive on, and if they find their gear, have the ability to blow Southampton out of the water.
Out of options and ideas, manager Mikel Arteta could also re-introduce Mesut Ozil to inject some creativity to the away team. Southampton, a relatively slow team with a goal difference of -14, could prove to be perfect fodder for a player like Ozil to perform his wizardry.
Both teams are coming into the game with differing forms but determined to get a result. However with the trouble that Maupay gave to a mentally as well as physically fragile Arsenal side, players like Ings and Hojbjerg could prove to be even more troublesome. The time and opportunity seems to be perfect for both teams to ensure a strong end to the season, and with the defensive problems of both sides, this could be one to watch.