Preview: Southampton v Arsenal

Arsenal will look to continue their push for a top-four finish in the Premier League when they take on Southampton at St Mary's on Wednesday.

Premier League

10 May 2017

Matchday 35

Kickoff: 20:45

Venue: St. Mary's

Referee: J. Moss

Assistants: E. Smart, S. Bennett

Fourth official: M. Jones

Head-to-head summary:

TEAM MATCHES WIN DRAW LOSS

Southampton 92 20 25 47

Arsenal 92 47 25 20

Previous encounter:

Southampton 0-5 Arsenal (28/01/2017) FA Cup fourth round

Arsenal goalscorers: D. Welbeck (15', 22'), T. Walcott (35', 69', 84')

Players to watch:

The Saints have missed Charlie Austin, who has been sidelined since December with a shoulder injury that required surgery. The striker was the south-coast club's top scorer at the time with six goals, although that tally has since been matched by Nathan Redmond.

The winger can be a real handful for defenders on his day, but also frustrating when he doesn't deliver on his bags of talent. Southampton boss Claude Puel clearly sees something in Redmond having handed him 29 starts in the league this term – more than any other player in the squad.

Both Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott will be raring to go in midweek, after the pair combined to dump the Saints out of the FA Cup in January. A brace from Welbeck had given the north Londoners an early lead before Walcott sealed the victory with a hat-trick.

But it's Alexis Sanchez who makes the Gunners tick, and if he has an off day the team usually suffers. The Chilean is the club's leading scorer in 2016/17 with 19 goals, but hasn't found the back of the net in his last three league matches. Sanchez isn't all about goals, though, as he also has the most assists in the first team with nine.

Team form and manager quotes:

Arsene Wenger's side bounced back from their demoralizing derby defeat to Tottenham by comfortably beating Manchester United 2-0 on Sunday – a fourth win in six outings taking them within six points of the top-four, with a game in hand.

Three points on the south coast will see the Gunners climb above United into fifth place with just three fixtures remaining in the campaign.

The two teams lock horns for the fourth time this term, and even though the Gunners hold the upper hand with 2-1 and 5-0 victories in the league and FA Cup respectively – they lost 2-0 to Southampton in the EFL Cup – Wenger is expecting another stern test from Puel's men, having been impressed with the job done by his compatriot at St Mary's.

"I believe he has done well because they have taken initiative in every single game," the Frenchman said in his pre-match press conference.

"They have been doing well against the big teams in the league and overall they got to the League Cup final. Southampton had a very convincing performance on the day. Overall he has done well."

The Saints are hoping to finish in the top-half of the table for a fourth straight season, although a four-game winless streak means they are just holding onto 10th spot at the moment.

But they can take confidence from their most result having held Liverpool to a goalless draw at Anfield, and Puel has called for a strong performance from his players in front of their home fans.

"We know Arsenal. It's always a great team with fantastic offensive players," he old the press.

"But I think we can do a good game against this team – to keep, of course, a good structure, to defend together and to prevent them chances.

"But also to have the ball and the possibility in the final third to find the clinical edge and to produce good football. It's important also in front of our fans to show our qualities."

Team news:

The hosts remain without long-term absentees Virgil van Dijk, Alex McCarthy, Matt Targett and Austin, although the latter two are closing in on their comebacks.

Puel has an otherwise fully-fit squad to choose from, while Wenger has slight concerns over skipper Laurent Koscielny and Granit Xhaka.

French defender Koscielny and Swiss midfielder Xhaka both picked up knocks in the clash with United, and the pair will be assessed closer to kick-off.

Shkodran Mustafi and Lucas Perez remain unavailable with muscle strains, along with long-term injury victim Santi Cazorla.

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