Educated Guesswork: Arsenal v Southampton

Andi Foster assesses and predicts what could happen when Arsenal play Southampton in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday night.

After a full weekend of league football (including a number of accumulator-breaking upsets), the focus midweek switches to the third round of the Carling Cup - and with trophies harder to come by than ever before, each team will be doing everything they can to progress.

One of the best looking ties of the round take place at the Emirates stadium on Tuesday night as a defensively thin Arsenal take on a new-look Southampton side that are flying high in the league.

Arsenal have traditionally done well at this point in the League Cup but is there anything to suggest that trend could change on Tuesday night? Let's take a closer look.

So far this season, Arsenal's well known character traits have been on display and it has been a somewhat familiar story for Arsenal fans with some superb forward play on show alongside some defensive lapses (that should have long ago been fixed in training).

Style and skill have been demonstrated in abundance but at the cost of physical power and concentration. Arsenal seem to do the hard things well but struggle with easier tasks (like defending set pieces).

Statistics wise, Arsenal have been conceding an average of over a goal a game at home (so Southampton will have chances) but the flip side of this is that they will also have to be wary of the fact that Arsenal average 2 goals a game at home.

And with Arsenal gaining a bit of momentum at the weekend (with a victory over Aston Villa) they will be quietly confident. There will be some rotation from Arsenal (expect to see Podolski, Coquelin, Bellerin and Campbell), but the line-up to face Southampton will still be a strong side with perhaps a few younger faces on the bench (Hayden & Akpom for instance).

Meanwhile few would have expected Southampton's recovery from the sale of so many assets to have happened so quickly, but Koeman has got his Southampton side playing together well and rapidly and they currently find themselves in 2nd place in the league having only lost once this season (to Liverpool in the first round of fixtures).

Southampton have won their last four games (including victory over Millwall in the 2nd round) and a large part of that is down to them currently possessing the best defence in the Premiership (with a 60% clean sheet record). Southampton's game isn't all about defence though as they are also currently the 4th best offensive team in the Premier League.

Southampton however haven't come across another of the 'big guns' since their opening fixture, so this game will certainly be a test of their character (and a pointer to show exactly how far they have come).

You have to look back to 2002 to find the last Southampton victory over Arsenal, but that could well change on Tuesday night. I don't think it will though.

Prediction: Arsenal 2 Southampton 1

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