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Back Arsenal to beat Southampton in the Caesars sportsbook.
The Gunners’ form has tailed off but the Saints have also been disappointing of late, so Mikel Arteta’s men can get back on track here.
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What a difference a fortnight makes. At the beginning of April, Arsenal was in pole position to qualify for the Champions League alongside Manchester City, Liverpool, and Chelsea. They had won six of the previous seven matches. Even in a 2-0 home loss to Liverpool, they were the better team for long periods. Mikel Arteta’s side was three points clear of the chasing pack and had one or two games in hand on their fellow contenders.
Yet two bad results have changed the picture entirely. First, Arsenal was comfortably beaten 3-0 by Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. Then, last weekend, they suffered a surprise 2-1 home defeat by a Brighton & Hove Albion side that had collected just one point from the last 21 available.
At the same time, Tottenham has found the consistency that eluded them at the beginning of 2022. Days before Arsenal came unstuck against Palace, their north London neighbors thumped Newcastle United 5-1. Last time out Tottenham demolished Aston Villa 4-0. No team in the Premier League has collected as many points as Antonio Conte’s side since the start of March.
Arteta and his players mustn’t get too down on themselves, though. Things can change quickly in soccer. Arsenal is still only three points behind Tottenham – and they have played one fewer game. There could be plenty of twists and turns still to come in this particular battle.
At the same time, Arsenal must get back on track as quickly as possible. An away game against Chelsea next midweek will not be easy, so Arteta’s side must emerge victorious on the south coast on Saturday.
It would take a monumental turnaround for Southampton to be sucked into the relegation battle in the remaining six weeks or so of the Premier League campaign. Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side is only four places above the bottom three going into the weekend, but a 12-point buffer should be sufficient for them to survive even if they do not pick up another point this term.
That would be unlikely, although the Saints’ form has tailed off dramatically in recent weeks. An impressive five-match unbeaten run that encompassed meetings with Manchester City, Manchester United, and Tottenham have given way to a five-game winless streak. Following losses to Aston Villa, Newcastle, and Watford, Southampton was thrashed 6-0 by Chelsea last time out.
That was not the first time Hasenhuttl’s side has been dismantled (the Saints have lost two games 9-0 under their current boss). Yet while Southampton’s top-flight status is essentially secure, they will not want to limp over the finish line.
Southampton’s game plan is based around energy, intensity, and pressing, but they have looked a little tired of late. A lack of strength in depth within the squad is an issue. Profligate finishing is another: only Norwich City and Brighton have a bigger gap between their goals scored and expected goals.
Before the start of March, St Mary’s was one of the toughest stadiums for the visiting teams to win at, with Wolverhampton Wanderers the only visiting side to have triumphed over Southampton on their patch in 2021/22. For some reason, the Saints’ home form has collapsed recently with consecutive losses to Newcastle, Watford, and Chelsea.
This will still be a test of Arsenal’s character, though. The Gunners have suffered their fair share of adversity in the last fortnight. As well as the back-to-back defeats, they have lost Kieran Tierney and Thomas Partey to injury. Some key refereeing decisions went against them in the reverse to Brighton last time out.
Arsenal is a young side and that lack of experience could ultimately prove decisive in the top-four race. However, they should get the job done against a Southampton team that has been extremely poor in their recent fixtures.
There may be question marks over Alex Lacazette, but in Emile Smith Rowe, Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard, and Gabriel Martinelli, Arsenal are not short of quality in attacking areas. Southampton has conceded 15 goals in their last five encounters and may struggle to keep the Gunners out on Saturday. Go for an away win in this one.
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|Southampton vs Arsenal Information|
|Teams||Southampton vs Arsenal|
|Location||St Mary’s, Southampton, England|
|Time||Saturday, 16 April 2022, 3.00 PM EDT|
|How to watch||CNBC, Peacock Premium|
Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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