Arsenal will hope that they can open 2013 with the same verve and style that they finished off with in 2012. They managed to smash 7 goals past Newcastle even if the 7-3 score line didn’t necessarily reflect how close the game was for long spells.
They will be full of confidence as they managed to pick off the Magpies as they wilted late on while the star of the show on Saturday will certainly take centre stage again.
This being former Southampton star Theo Walcott who is grabbing all the headlines at the moment with Gunners fans urging Arsene Wenger to sign him up.
He will be hoping to make his first start against the Saints since leaving them in January 2006 and will be making an emotional return to St. Mary’s.
Walcott only made a substitute appearance for 15 minutes in the 6-1 demolition job at the Emirates the last time these two teams met and he will be expecting to be initiating a similar result with his goals this time round from a striking position.
The Saints currently find themselves in the relegation zone but have not struggled for goals since returning to the Premier League. It is more a problem at the other end procuring clean sheets.
At the Britannia stadium last time out this summarized their fortunes so far this season as they dazzled in attack and looked good value for all three points against 10 men Stoke but could not see out the job in the 3-3 draw.
Southampton are expected to shuffle the pack but still expect to be without club captain Adam Lallana. Adkins could decide to recall several key men, such as playmaker Gaston Ramirez.
Per Mertesacker could be available after illness for the trip to St Mary’s. Rosicky made the bench against Newcastle so won’t be far off full time contention either. Andre Santos (stomach muscle) and midfielder Abou Diaby (thigh) have started light training but won’t feature here.
Arsenal have scored six goals twice in their last six meetings with Southampton and the Saints will be desperate to avoid another morale sapping rout here.
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