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Fresh from their comeback win over BATE Borisov in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday, Arsenal’s attention will turn to the Premier League this weekend when they host Southampton.
On Sunday, the Gunners will be seeking to keep the pressure on Manchester United, who face Liverpool on the same day, and Chelsea, who take on Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final, in the race for a top-four finish in the top flight.
Southampton remain immersed in a relegation battle as they gear up to spring a shock in north London. Although manager Ralph Hasenhuttl has help lift spirits at the club, they are without a win in their last three and currently sit in 18th spot in the Premier League standings, a point behind in-form Cardiff City.
Expect a fiercely contested contest between two sides who have plenty to play for still in the 2018-19 Premier League term.
Arsenal win (8/15)
Southampton win (6/1)
Odds courtesy of OddsChecker
Date: Sunday, February 24
Time: 2:05 p.m. (GMT), 9:05 a.m. (ET)
TV Info: NBC Sports (U.S.)
Live Stream: NBC Sports App (U.S.)
For Arsenal manager Unai Emery, the clash at the Emirates on Thursday had the potential to be a nervy game, as one away goal for the visitors would have left the Gunners needing to score at least three.
With that in mind, the coach would have been pleased by the professional manner in which the team went about their business. After an early own goal levelled the tie, there was never any real danger of the Belarusian team finding a way back into the contest.
James Benge of Football.London commented on the composed nature of the Arsenal performance:
James Benge @jamesbenge
BATE are probably going to score now but think Arsenal have handled this tie really rather intelligently.
They’ve never looked worried that the goals might not come and, even if they haven’t been their most incisive, have kept pretty constant control of the game.
James McNicholas of Gunnerblog believes the team has a long way to go before it’s at full tilt again:
The match against Southampton has the potential to be a lot tougher. Not only did Emery field a strong side on Thursday following the first-leg loss, Saints have shown at times this season they’re capable of digging in away from home; they were excellent defensively in a 0-0 draw with Chelsea.
As such, it will be intriguing to see who Emery opts for in attack, with Mesut Ozil back on the lips of Arsenal supporters following his reintroduction to the side on Thursday.
The German’s future has been subject to speculation as of late, with Emery leaving him out of the XI for a number of key games.
The man himself said he was relieved to get back on the pitch again, with his previous start coming on January 29 against Cardiff:
Mesut Özil @MesutOzil1088
Such a good feeling to stand on the pitch again 🙌🏽🔥 Great performance from the whole team overall 👊🏽#YaGunnersYa #UEL #M1Ö @Arsenal https://t.co/94248wa2uf
For all the upbeat vibes Hasenhuttl has brought to St Mary’s, the team are still in the relegation zone and the supporters remain concerned about dropping down a tier. Their previous defeat was a major blow, as they conceded in the 92nd minute at home to Cardiff.
The manager has had two weeks to work with the team since then and he will be confident of seeing a rejuvenated performance at the Emirates as such.
That may make this one a grind for Arsenal in spells and it’s easy to see this encounter being deadlocked after an hour. In the end, the extra firepower available to Emery will see his side sneak an important win.
Prediction: Arsenal 1-0 Southampton