Good morning one and all.
Arsenal welcome Southampton to the Emirates this afternoon. When these teams met at St Mary’s back in December, the Saints made things really difficult after going a goal up 3 minutes in. They nearly held on for the 1-0 victory but for erstwhile Arsenal pin-up Giroud emerging from the bench to rescue a point right at the death. That now seems like a lifetime ago.
Over the last 5 or so years the visitors established themselves as a proper mid-table side, having more than just odd good game in them. However this season their annual yard sale finally caught up with them as they find themselves in the midst of the relegation scrap.
So with 4 PL wins overall (2 each home and away) and just one victory in their last 18 PL fixtures (D9, L8)… they will need to come up with something special if they want to climb away from the relegation trap-door. Sooner rather than later.
If I’m going to stick my neck out, I’ll say there will be no reprieve for them from their anguish. Arsenal come into the game off the back of 5 successive victories (15 GF, 2 GA), looking to have shaken off those jitters that had blighted us as there is currently a real air of self-confidence.
Now I know we are prioritising Europa but it’s also important to ride on this wave of momentum and be weary to not let our performance and intensity levels drop. Media reports around the club are currently better, albeit just, than it has been at any time all season, expert fans and certain “legends” are making themselves look more foolish each passing day and that’s how we should keep it. The last thing we need now is vitriolic nonsense as we take the scenic route to Lyon.
Caveat: respect your opponent and mother football won’t show your ass up.
On team news: with Koscielny having a yoga date, Mkhi and Ospina on sick leave and a short turnaround… I don’t doubt the Boss will look to strike a careful balance between freshness and rhythm in support of Auba.
We might see the same approach as the Stoke game. Saints had a week’s rest and will likely be very energetic from the off. Keep them at arms length in the first half and like a predator lying in wait, pick them off in the second.
Anyhoo. To all those ignoring Ian Wright’s plea and going to the game, do enjoy yourselves because through a difficult season the Emirates has always been kind. Everyone else watching from around the globe, never quit having the team’s back.