Arsenal’s Premier League title charge has slowed down following successive draws, though the misfiring Gunners are odds-on favourites to find their range again when they host Southampton at The Emirates Stadium this evening.
A gap of 51 points exists between the teams, who are positioned at either end of the table, though the Saints have made a habit of upsetting the big boys this term, and they held Arsenal to a 1-1 draw when the teams met on the south coast for the reverse fixture in October.
As per the usual routine, I’ve laid out my stats pack for today’s contest in the capital below which should arm you with enough insight to tackle the bet builder markets as a more informed bettor. Take a glance at my Stats Pack Guide if you need some extra assistance.
French defender William Saliba has been ruled out of this evening’s game, though versatile Ukrainian Oleksandr Zinchenko could recover in time to feature. If Zinchenko misses the cut, expect Kieran Tierney to fill in at left back in his absence.
Mikel Arteta is expected to settle on his favoured front six against the Saints, with Gabriel Martinelli preferred to Leandro Trossard on the left. Granit Xhaka, who scored against Southampton in October, will anchor the midfield alongside regular partner, Thomas Partey.
Southampton will be without the services of Che Adams, Mohammed Salisu and Ainsley Maitlant-Niles today, with the latter unable to feature against his parent club. With Salisu sidelined, Armel Bella-Kotchap and Jan Bednarek could be partnered at centre-back.
Saints’ boss Rubén Sellés has decisions to make further up the pitch however, with Kamaldeen Sulemana, Kevin Mara, Samuel Edozie and even Joe Aribo capable of filling in at centre-forward in place of the injured Adams.
Arsenal’s stats for the campaign look strong across the board, though it is interesting to note that the league leaders don’t top the pile for any single metric. The Gunners rank second for xG and fourth for shots on target per 90, while they have been outperformed by Man City in virtually every defensive department.
Mikel Arteta’s troops looked like they had the title-chasing jitters in their draws at Liverpool and West Ham where they allowed their opponents to clock a combined 5.7 in xG and 37 shots against them. Southampton are a generous-looking 8/13 to rack up 3+ attempts on target against the same nervy Arsenal side today.
Southampton have lost 20 of their 31 assignments in the Premier League this season, though the division’s bottom club are still just four points from safety. The Saints have been conceding 1.71 goals per 90 this term, though that figure drops to 1.53 (p/90) on the road, while their xG against figures for the campaign are of mid-table quality.
In the attacking third, Southampton remain the league’s lowest scorers (0.77), though they have been racking up more shots than seven other clubs. Only a handful of teams have been collecting more cards on their travels however – the Saints have been averaging 2.2 cards per away fixture and you can grab them at 4/7 to amass over 1.5 of those this evening.
Player Shots and Shots on Target
The return to fitness of Brazilian star Gabriel Jesus has been a major boost to Arsenal’s title chances and the 26-year-old, whose been hitting 1.48 shots per 90 this season, had four attempts on goal when the Gunners last played Southampton in October.
Jesus is of interest at 4/6 to hit at least 2+ accurate efforts today, while Martin Odegaard also catches the eye at 4/9 in the 1+ shots on target stakes. The Norwegian has been a match for Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli in the SOT arena this term, though Odegaard, who had shots on target against both West Ham and Liverpool last week, is the stand-out pick for value.
Argentinean Carlos Alcaraz only joined Southampton in January, though the 20-year-old has climbed quickly to the leader board at the Saints for both shots and shots on target per 90. The exciting youngster struck two accurate attempts against Crystal Palace last weekend, and Alcaraz represents excellent value at 7/4 to register 1+ shots on target today.
Elsewhere, James Ward-Prowse is always a strong candidate in the market due to his prowess from set pieces. The 28-year-old England international is a generous 5/4 in the same range as Alcaraz.
Player Goals and Assists
46 of Arsenal’s 74 league goals this season have been provided by their fearsome front four, and that quartet dominate the anytime goalscorer and assist markets this week. Gabriel Jesus – who has scored in every Premier League start since his return from injury – is 10/11 to etch his name on the scoresheet again, while his compatriot Martinelli, who has three goals in his last five league runouts, is 13/10 in the same domain.
Martin Odegaard, who chipped in with two goal contributions in his last three Premier League starts, comes equipped with odds of 4/7 to either score or assist again at The Emirates Stadium this evening.
Southampton have scored just three goals in their last six Premier League away fixtures combined, and midfield maestro James Ward-Prowse was responsible for each strike, netting twice at Everton on January 14th and the winner at Chelsea a little over a month later.
Ward-Prowse’s ability to conjure up magic moments from dead balls has earned him cult hero status at Southampton and the 28-year-old probably represents The Saints’ best shot at securing an unlikely result in London. The club captain has been given odds of 6/1 in the anytime goalscorer market today.
Arsenal enjoyed just shy of 60% of the possession when they drew against Southampton at St. Mary’s Stadium last year, and Thomas Partey and Gabriel both played north of 70 passes in that stalemate on the south coast.
Partey (69.3) and Gabriel (61.5) have been prominent distributors right throughout the campaign for the Gunners and with at least two third of the ball to control this evening, both players should come closer to 90 passes in the rematch. Gabriel is 5/6 to beat that target, while Partey is even money.
Southampton rank 14th out of 20 in the division for average possession posted per Premier League game this season, so expect Saints’ players to finish today’s game with modest passing tallies.
A good chunk of Southampton’s play tends to flow through the talismanic James Ward-Prowse and he was the only Saint to hit more than 50 passes against Arsenal in October. Ward-Prowse is 5/6 to conquer that same total this evening, though there is little to garner interest elsewhere.
Arsenal Cards and Fouls
Arsenal (15) have gathered fewer cards in their home fixtures than any other outfit in the Premier League this term, though the Gunners have some pressing machines in attacking areas that could rack up the fouls even if cautions are unlikely.
Brazilian pair Gabriel Jesus and Martinelli, have been committing 1.66 and 1.20 fouls per 90 this season, though both are as short as 1/7 to sin at least once today. Jesus (5/6) and Martinelli (8/11) carry juicier prices in the 2+ fouls stakes, though the consistently combative Granit Xhaka might be a more palatable option at 4/11 to commit just one.
With hard-working Arsenal forwards Jesus and Martinelli ready to put the squeeze on their markers, Armel Bella-Kotchap and Kyle Walker-Peters, who have been fouled 1.68 and 1.43 times per 90 respectively this season, could be in the firing line today.
In midfield, the highly-regarded and in-demand Roméo Lavia faces a stern test of his more physical attributes against battle-hardened campaigner, Granit Xhaka. 19-year-old Lavia has been fouled a bone-bruising 2.15 times per 90 this term and that lofty average could be maintained this evening.
Match-Ups to watch
Gabriel Martinelli vs Kyle Walker-Peters
Gabriel Jesus vs Armel Bella-Kotchap
Granit Xhaka vs Roméo Lavia
Southampton Cards and Fouls
Remarkably, tenacious Southampton teenager, Roméo Lavia has committed at least one foul in 17 of his last 19 appearances in the league and that record makes the 19-year-old a snip at 3/10 to commit one or more again today.
Alongside him, James Ward-Prowse offers just as much bite and the 28-year-old has sinned at least once in 11 of his last 13 runouts. The set-piece specialist is 3/10 in the same market as Lavia and 6/4 to commit 2+ fouls this evening. Romain Perraud meanwhile, has the unenviable task of marking the lethal Bukayo Saka. The French fullback (1.53 fouls p/90) could be worth your gaze at 7/2 in the card market.
Gabriel Jesus has been fouled a calf crunching 2.76 times per 90 minutes this season and the Brazilian’s penchant for drifting into the spaces between midfield and attack should put him in Roméo Lavia’s lane later on.
To Jesus’s left, Gabriel Martinelli (1.18) can often draw multiple markers to his side due to the threat he carries, and the Saints’ Ward-Prowse might have to bring his repertoire of fouls across to help his fullback Kyle Walker-Peters at times. Bukayo Saka (1.72) can terrorize Romain Perraud on the opposite flank and the French left-back might choose to adopt a heavy-handed approach against the flying winger.
Match-Ups to watch
Romeo Lavia vs Gabriel Jesus
James Ward-Prowse vs Gabriel Martinelli
Romain Perraud vs Bukayo Saka
My bet builder picks of the pack
I’ve done some digging through the Stats Pack, and I’ve put together a list of selections that you can load below at odds of 7/2.