Arsenal vs Southampton, Saturday
Arsenal were haunted by their former talisman as they fell to a 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford last time out thanks to a Robin van Persie header. Arsenal were deprived of several key starters following an illness sweeping the camp the day before the match, but Arsene Wenger will no doubt have seen many positives to take from a battling effort.
Only Daniel Sturridge has had more shots on goal this season than Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud, perhaps showcasing both the Gunners’ reliance on him to lead the line, as well as the increase in quality service from the likes of Mesut Ozil. The Frenchman has had 35 attempts on goal this season.
Although he has been relatively quiet by his own lofty standards in recent games, Mesut Ozil has still been one of Arsenal’s most effective players this season for the average time he has been on the pitch. The German maestro has completed a pass in the opponent’s half on average once every 1.8 minutes he has been on the field.
Left-back Kieran Gibbs continues to raise his individual standards this season as he pushes for a potential berth in England’s World Cup squad next summer. He’s completed an outstanding 72.1% of his 68 attempted challenges so far this season.
Centre-half Laurent Koscielny has become an absolutely essential figure in the Arsenal defence over the last year. No Arsenal player can rival his 96 defensive contributions (tackles won, blocks, interceptions, clearances) this season according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
Southampton’s dream run continued as they took apart Hull City in a 4-1 win that saw them move up to third in the league. The game was graced by a fabulous solo Adam Lallana goal which will have done the confidence of the entire Saints squad no harm at all as they face a more daunting test at the Emirates this weekend.
Hard-tackling midfielder Victor Wanyama has continued to impose his tenacious style of play on the Premier League this season but been coming to the notice of officials far more than he would like. No player in the league can top his 29 fouls this season according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
Adam Lallana was in effervescent form last time out for the Saints, no doubt attempting to capitalise on the huge confidence boost created by his call-up to the England squad. Lallana completed 5 dribbles against Hull, the highest in the league during the last round of fixtures.
Southampton’s success this season has been largely predicated on a resolute defence which has refused to yield many goals so far this term. In Dejan Lovren and Jose Fonte they have two of the best performing defenders in the league, who collectively have combined for an outstanding total of 268 total defensive contributions (blocks, clearances, interceptions, tackles won).