Managers: (Wins-Draws-Losses, Seasons)
Arsenal: Arsene Wenger (556-230-187, 18th season)
Southampton: Mauricio Pochettino (12-11-7, 2nd season)
Form: (Wins-Draws-Losses: Goals Scored: Goals Allowed)
Arsenal at home (4-0-1, 11:5) vs. Southampton away (2-2-1, 4:3)
The match of the week for Matchday 12 is this clash between two of the top three clubs in the English Premier League so far this season. One team is used to being in this position, and the other club was playing in the third-tier of English Football not three seasons ago.
That familiar club is No. 1 Arsenal who comes into this match with a possible 25 of 33 points this season. Arsene Wenger‘s squad is firing on all cylinders so far having scored on 35 percent of their shots on goal. The scoring has been very balanced as well with 10 different goal scorers including two goals from the defense.
One of the keys to Arsenal’s success this season has been winning the possession battle which they have done in nine of the 11 matches so far. They have possessed the ball for more than 60 percent of their matches four times, and interestingly in both of their losses they had more than 60 percent possession.
For Arsenal to win this match they will need to figure out a way to break down this very good Southampton defense. If they can play a quick-hitting, two touch game in the attacking third maybe they will be able to catch the defense flat-footed and spring someone on an open run to goal. They will need to take their shots when they arise because there will not be too many chances; Southampton’s defense has allowed 31 shots on goal total this season.
Arsenal Projected Lineup: 4-2-3-1
Bacary Sagna — Laurent Koscielny — Per Mertesacker — Kieran Gibbs
Mathieu Flamini — Mikel Arteta
Aaron Ramsey — Mesut Özil — Santi Cazorla
At the start of the 2010-11 season, Southampton was getting ready to begin their second season in League One or the third tier of English football. Now just three short years later they have made a triumphant return to the Premier League and are showing that they belong there both now and in the future. No. 3 Southampton has the best defensive record in the EPL having only allowed five goals in the 11 matches so far, and they also do very well possessing the ball having won the possession battle in nine of their 11 matches.
The one other area that Southampton is dominating the league in is youth; in the projected lineup below eight of the starters are age 25 or below including English teenagers James Ward-Prowse (19) and Luke Shaw (18). The fact that these players are having a big impact on the team at such a young age is not just a sign that Southhampton fans should be excited about but also English National Team fans. These are the future of that team; throw in 22-year old right back Nathaniel Clyne and there is very much a reason to be excited as an England fan.
For Southampton to win they will need Victor Wanyama and Morgan Schneiderlin to be successful in containing Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Özil by denying them space to operate. The motivation will be there for Southampton because if they win then they could possibly end Matchday 12 on top of the English Premier League.
Southampton Projected Lineup: 4-2-3-1
Nathaniel Clyne — José Fonte — Dejan Lovren — Luke Shaw
Victor Wanyama — Morgan Schneiderlin
James Ward-Prowse — Adam Lallana — Jay Rodriguez
Arsenal hosts Southampton on Matchday 12 of the Barclays Premier League at the Emirates Stadium in London on Saturday, Nov. 23. This match will kickoff at 10:00 a.m. ET and can be seen live in the United States on the NBC Sports Network.
Prediction: Arsenal 2, Southampton 1
This should be a really great game and one that I am looking forward to. The difference in this game will be Arsenal center back Per Mertesacker who at 6-foot-6 will cause marking problems on set pieces for the Southampton defense.