Arsenal must quickly turn their season around but face fantastic Southampton in tough test
Arsenal 1-1 Southampton
Such is the terrible form in which Arsenal enter into this contest, Southampton are slight favourites for possibly the first time in the Premier League era.
Not since 1974-75 have Arsenal made a poorer start to a league season, claiming just 13 points from their opening 12 matches, with seven defeats and only four wins during that period.
Their latest catastrophe came against Burnley at the weekend, with a manic couple of minutes seeing Granit Xhaka sent off for grabbing an opponent by the throat before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang headed into his own net.
With the busiest part of the season approaching, the Arsenal board must surely be considering whether Mikel Arteta is the right man to lead them forward.
Southampton are without such concerns, enjoying the second best-ever start to a Premier League season, after 2014-15. Confidence is flowing throughout a side which has no obvious weakness.
This is one hell of a tough match for Arsenal.
Form Guide (all comps): LWLWL
Reasons to be cheerful:
League is still tight, and a couple of wins could boost them up table
Europa League form has been brilliant
Reasons to be fearful:
Shocking league form without a win in six
Stuttering attack are struggling to create
Things change quickly in football, but few clubs have gone through a change in fortunes quite as quickly as Arsenal have this season.
After finishing last season strongly, winning the FA Cup no less, many predicted Arsenal to have a fine season, perhaps even knocking on the door for the Champions League spots. Mikel Arteta was seen as the man to slowly but sure progress the club back to former glories.
On recent showing, nothing appears further from the truth. From the back of the pitch to the front, there seem to be issues: David Luiz falling out with the manager, Aubameyang only scoring two goals this season and the list goes on.
They will need a quick response to save their manager’s job, but Southampton will be a tough test.
Star Man – Bukayo Saka
Was again the liveliest of his teammates and was unlucky not to score. Needs to add more end product to his game.
Form Guide (all comps): WDLWW
Reasons to be cheerful
Terrific form is among the best in the league
Just one defeat in last 10 games
Reasons to be fearful
Must be wary of an Arsenal response
Do they have the squad depth to survive busy festive period?
Southampton are a team which don’t appear to have any obvious failings.
There are no world-class players, but boast an organised, solid defence, a midfield blessed with both hard-working and creative players, and a frontline among the best in the league on current form.
Danny Ings and Che Adams continue to excel in matches where they play together. Usually Ings is on the scoresheet, but last weekend in their win over Sheffield United, he was happy to play the role of contributor, laying on the assist for their second goal.
On paper, they have too much for Arsenal at present, but the Saints must be wary of a response from the London side who must act quickly to save their manager’s position.
Star Man – Danny Ings
Can score goals as well as create them. There aren’t too many better than Ings when in top form.
Should be an entertaining game with chances at both ends
Southampton may be slight favourites
Arsenal must respond positively
Although Arsenal are in a poor state right now, the club will eventually recover and start to win matches. Even if their squad is not of the quality required to win the league, they’re at least better than 15th place.
Southampton will expect a response this weekend, but know they have the quality to hurt Arsenal themselves.
It may be a tight game, which it why this could end as a draw.
Arsenal 1-1 Southampton