Educated Guesswork: Arsenal v Southampton

Andi Foster presents his take on the upcoming top of the table clash at the Emirates this weekend.

Put your hands up if you thought the Premier Leagye table would look like it does after 11 games?

I mean Crystal Palace being bottom was expected (sorry Palace fans) but Arsenal top of the table? No Manchester clubs in the top 4? (Yet).

This really has been a surprise of a season so far (and I’m thankful for that) and this Saturday will see two of the season's surprise packages face off against each other.

Arsenal (whilst not a top 4 surprise) have started the season strongly – especially following their opening day defeat to Aston Villa and find themselves in first place.

As the season has progressed confidence has been growing and as a result this is the first campaign in a long while that Arsenal could be considered genuine trophy contenders.

In recent seasons Arsenal would have a hangover following a league loss and take a few matches to recover – but this season the Villa defeat proved to be a spark which forced Arsenal into life.

With the second best home attacking record in the Premier Leagye this season Arsenal will be hoping that the loss against Manchester United was nothing more than a blip.

Over the last 6 home games however, Arsenal have conceded on average a goal a game (giving them the 11th best defensive record for the period) – so any team that plays them should have chances.

Southampton have been this season’s surprise team (even the biggest Southampton fan couldn’t have predicted being in 3rd place with a quarter of the season gone) and have rightly won plaudits for the way that they play football and also for the way that the club is run.

They boast the 2nd best away defensive record in the Premiership over the course of the last 6 games but rank 12th for away offensive play (scoring on average less than a goal a game).

So games that Southampton play away from home don’t tend to be high scoring affairs – and this is confirmed by the fact that Southampton have drawn their last two away games. But what will happen at the Emirates on Saturday?

This game has been made more interesting to try and predict because of international exertions. Southampton’s new internationals will be buzzing whilst a few Arsenal players either picked up knocks away on duty or have had massive trips.

Thus meaning that this game could be tight, or there could be loads of goals in it. Given Southampton’s away defensive record though – I think the chances are that they will frustrate Arsenal (yet will still probably score).

Prediction (A very close) 2:1 to Arsenal……. (Or a 1-0 smash and grab from Southampton)

image: © Ronnie Macdonal

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