Arsenal v Southampton: Strengthened Gunners can turn up heat on Puel

Aaron Ramsey could return for Arsenal, who also have Shkodran Mustafi and Lucas Perez available
Aaron Ramsey could return for Arsenal, who also have Shkodran Mustafi and Lucas Perez available

Transfer-deadline signings Shkodran Mustafi and Lucas Perez have added to Arsene Wenger's options and Andrew Atherley believes he is well placed to get the better of fellow Frenchman Claude Puel...


"It seems reasonable to say that Southampton over-performed under Koeman and, if they are to fall into the also-rans outside the top eight, this has to be a big chance for Arsenal."

Recommended Bet
Back Arsenal off -1 on Asian Handicap at 1.9720/21

Arsenal v Southampton
Saturday September 10, 15:00


Arsenal

Arsene Wenger has already come under fire after taking only four points from the first three matches, which leaves the Gunners five points off pacesetters Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United at this early stage of the season.

At least Wenger addressed one of the regular criticisms aimed at him by splashing out late in the transfer window on defender Shkodran Mustafi and striker Lucas Perez.

With Granit Xhaka having arrived earlier in the summer and already inviting comparison with former midfield linchpin Emmanuel Petit, Wenger has clearly made efforts to strengthen in every area.

Mustafi and Perez are in line for their debuts and Aaron Ramsey could return after a hamstring problem.


Southampton

The Saints have also started slowly and, like the Gunners, that is nothing new to them, as this is the second consecutive season in which they have failed to win any of their opening three matches.

That did not stop them finishing sixth at the end of last season but Ronald Koeman had already proved himself with seventh place the previous season, whereas new manager Claude Puel must still convince everyone he is up to the challenge of the Premier League.

Once again several top performers departed in the summer - this time it was Sadio Mane, Victor Wanyama and Graziano Pelle - but dire predictions of collapse have been confounded in similar circumstances in previous seasons.

Hopes are pinned on new arrivals Sofiane Boufal (reportedly once an Arsenal target) and Nathan Redmond keeping the Saints marching on rather than going backwards.


Match Odds

Southampton have become something of a bogey team for Arsenal in recent meetings, with only one victory for the Gunners in the last six meetings in all competitions and clean sheets for the Saints in the last three.

A clean sheet may well be needed again if the visitors are to take anything from this match, as Arsenal won 12 out of 15 when scoring at home last season (the second-best win rate in the Premier League in those circumstances).

With Southampton yet to keep a clean sheet for Puel, there is obvious doubt about their chances here.

Under Koeman, the Saints were pretty good on the road even when conceding (W4 D3 L6 last season) but again it has yet to be proven whether they will carry the same threat for Puel (more than half the goals in those positive away results were scored by Pelle and Mane).

If the Saints are not going to be a top-eight team again, the odds are strongly in favour of an Arsenal win, as Wenger's side had a W9 D1 L2 record last season at home to teams outside the top eight.


Half Time/Full Time

Given that a home win looks the most dependable result, it is interesting to look at what happened when Arsenal scored at home last season, aside from the bare win figures.

Of the 15 matches, eight were win-win for the Gunners on the Half Time/Full Time, which means 67% of their home wins were achieved that way (the previous season it was 75%).

That strike-rate makes the Arsenal win-win always worth considering at the Emirates and the odds on Saturday are an enticing 2.526/4.


Over/Under 2.5 Goals

This match was 0-0 last season and under 2.5 goals is favourite based on last season's overall stats, when Arsenal had 11 out of 19 (58%) under 2.5 goals at home and Southampton's away figures were 12 out of 19 (63%).

The market does not agree, with under 2.5 goals the outsider at 2.1211/10.


Asian Handicap

It seems reasonable to say that Southampton over-performed under Koeman (just look at how Everton already seem better with him in charge) and, if they are to fall into the also-rans outside the top eight, this has to be a big chance for Arsenal.

The Gunners, to some extent against popular myth, are excellent at beating up teams outside the top eight, with a home win rate of 81% in the past three seasons.

That makes them a decent bet off -1 on the Asian handicap at 1.9720/21, with money back for a one-goal victory and a winning bet for anything above that.


Recommended Bet

Back Arsenal off -1 on Asian Handicap at 1.9720/21


Opta Stat

Saints have scored just one goal in four Premier League visits to the Emirates, failing to score in the last three. Arsenal to win to nil is 8/5 with Betfair Sportsbook.


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