Arsenal will aim to reignite their charge for a top-four finish in the Premier League when an out-of-sorts Southampton welcome them to St Mary’s on Saturday afternoon.
The Saints were thrashed 6-0 by Chelsea in their most recent matchup, while Mikel Arteta’s side made it back-to-back losses with a 2-1 defeat at home to Brighton & Hove Albion.
For all of their hard work over the winter months, Southampton have been a shadow of their former selves in the past few weeks, and a Chelsea side lacking confidence barely needed to get into second gear to snap their losing streak on the South Coast.
Marcos Alonso, Kai Havertz, Mason Mount and Timo Werner all got their names on the scoresheet before the half-time whistle blew, and the latter two doubled their tallies early in the second half, but Southampton did at least manage to avoid yet another 9-0 thumping in front of their own fans.
That may have been the only minor consolation that Ralph Hasenhuttl and his side could take from that 6-0 humiliation, with the Saints slowly slipping down the table after posting just one draw and four losses from their last eight in the top flight.
Southampton suddenly find themselves down in 14th in the table amid their miserable run of form, but only one point separates them from Crystal Palace in the top 10, and the chance to close that gap is upon them as Patrick Vieira’s side prepare for FA Cup semi-final duties.
A formerly solid side at home, Southampton have now strung together a three-game losing run at St Mary’s in the Premier League – shipping 10 goals in the process – but Arsenal are not a side riding on cloud nine right now.
It has only taken the loss of three big-name players to injury for everything to go wrong for Arsenal, who have relinquished their spot on fourth place in the Premier League table to bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur and are at risk of undoing all their efforts from the earlier months.
Brighton’s struggles to find the back of the net before the Emirates trip were well-documented, but the Seagulls had no trouble carving their way through a makeshift Arsenal side, with Leandro Trossard and Enock Mwepu both finishing with aplomb before Martin Odegaard’s deflected consolation.
Back-to-back losses to Crystal Palace and Brighton has seen the same old problems become apparent for Arsenal and Arteta, who have failed to compensate for the losses of Takehiro Tomiyasu, Thomas Partey and Kieran Tierney as the season approaches its business end.
Arsenal now find themselves down in fifth but remain just three points behind fourth-placed Tottenham with a game in hand, so the destiny of the North London clubs in Europe could very well come down to the imminent capital derby on May 12.
Taking maximum points back to base this weekend is therefore simply a must for Arsenal, who also have to take on Chelsea and Manchester United before the month is up, and they did win five away Premier League games in a row away from home before being humbled by the Eagles.
Arteta’s side also eased to a 3-0 win over Southampton at the Emirates back in December – their sixth league match without defeat versus the Saints – but they have not done the double over their South Coast opponents since 2016-17.
Southampton Premier League form:
Southampton form (all competitions):
Arsenal Premier League form:
We say: Southampton 1-3 Arsenal
Even if Lacazette does miss out this weekend, Arsenal have plenty of other attacking outlets for goals and assists and ought to have taken notice of Southampton’s complete lack of defensive discipline in the Chelsea loss.
The Gunners’ own key absentees and confidence issues should lead to a sense of belief within Hasenhuttl’s ranks that they can end their own barren run, but anything other than three points could prove fatal in Arsenal’s top-four bid, and we have faith in Arteta’s side to return to winning ways.