By Antony Jordan
The 2016/17 season has not been the best of times for Arsenal and their manager Arsene Wenger.
Gunners will see their 22 year run of finishing above local rivals Tottenham Hotspur will come to an end when the season concludes and they may miss out on finishing in the top four for the first time in two decades seeing them miss out on the Champions League for next season.
However, they are just six points off fourth in the league with this game in hand so if they can secure all three points will The Gunners be able to stage a late resurgence to secure another top four finish?
We preview their midweek clash at St Mary’s Stadium on the south coast against Southampton with online sportsbook Bet365.com to bring you the best EPL picks.
Long-term absentees Charlie Austin and Virgil van Dijk will still be on the sidelines for the hosts this Wednesday evening, but apart from these two admittedly key players manager Claude Puel will be able to call on all of the players that secured a credible 0-0 draw at Liverpool at the weekend.
The biggest issue for Wenger and The Gunners for this match is the recurrence of an ankle injury for midfielder Granit Xhaka that saw him doubtful for the clash with Manchester United at the weekend. He managed to play in that 2-0 win against Jose Mourinho’s side and apart from this injury concern for the Swiss player Arsene Wenger will be happy with the players at his disposal for this match.
Although Southampton secured a fine draw at Anfield at the weekend where many sides have struggled this year, the fact that they failed to win has seen them stretch their winless run to four games now. They suffered defeats to Man City and Chelsea before drawing 0-0 with Hull and Liverpool, but they are now more than a month without three points. They are secure in the league and now have little to play for apart from a top eight finish in the league and avoiding the drop into the bottom half of the table, but with just one win at St. Mary’s since the middle of January are they motivated enough to win this match?
Arsenal bounced back from their 2-0 loss at Tottenham in the North London Derby with a fine win over Manchester United by the same scoreline on home soil at the weekend and they come into this match on the south coast with four wins in the last five games, including beating Man City in extra time to make the FA Cup Final. However, their away form has not been the best as they have lost six of their last eight road trips in all competitions and have only defeated non-league side Sutton United and relegated Middlesbrough since their last meeting with The Saints when they triumphed 5-0 on this ground at the end of January.
That 5-0 win for The Gunners on this ground at the start of the year came in the FA Cup when the home team had rested a large number of players for the match and we are sure that this match will not be as easy for the away side. In addition to this, The Gunners have failed to win away to Southampton prior to the FA Cup clash since 2003 and were beaten 4-0 and 2-0 in their last two EPL visits so do they deserve to be the favourites to win this match?
We feel that they do as they have far more purpose than Southampton at this stage of the season and they are likely to take all three points. However, this is far from a foregone conclusion with their away form recently and with both sides both scoring and conceding goals of late in their respective home and away games we are backing goals on the south coast this midweek.