Welcome to Talking Heads.
Before and after every first-team fixture, our co-commentator and an Arsenal blogger will have their say on the game.
Arsenal took on Southampton in the Premier League on Tuesday and our Talking Heads for this game were former Gunner Stephen Hughes and James McNicholas from Gunnerblog.
STEPHEN HUGHES, STUDIO GUEST
Arsenal will come into the game off the back of a fantastic result and performance against Newcastle at the weekend. It was really entertaining, we scored seven goals, and, despite Newcastle really being in the game for an hour, in the end we could probably have scored even more.
Southampton are fighting for their lives. There are players in their squad that have never played Premier League football, so it’s all new to them. They got a great result at Stoke, which no one saw coming. They were 3-1 up at the break and started the game very well.
They’re a different kettle of fish at home. The crowd really get behind them and they will start brightly. I don’t expect it to be easy. With the form Arsenal are in, most people will be expecting an away win but anything can happen on the day.
I remember playing against Rickie Lambert on numerous occasions at different levels and I’m pleased he’s got his shot at playing in the Premier League. He can definitely do it at this level. He’s a big, old-fashioned centre forward. He holds the ball up well and is a real threat. He attacks the ball in the air, and whoever plays centre half for Arsenal will have to be alert to that.
Arsenal are in great form and scoring a lot of goals at the moment, so I’ll go for a 3-1 away win.
JAMES McNICHOLAS, GUNNERBLOG
This was a disappointing day for Arsenal fans: neither the performance nor the result will have been to many Gooners' satisfaction. There is an oft-repeated Premier League mantra about a point away from home never being a bad thing. This, much like the dispiriting draw at Villa Park in November, is one of the exceptions that disproves that rule.
When picking a star performer for Arsenal you can only really look at Wojciech Szczesny, who made several impressive saves, the pick of which stopped Bacary Sagna from scoring an embarrassing own goal. Sagna had a particularly torrid time of it: it was his miscued clearance which led to Southampton's opener. When even Arsenal's Mr. Reliable is struggling, you know it's a bad day at the office for the Gunners.
Arsène Wenger will probably be a little relieved to escape with a point. Our only goal was scored by a Southampton player after the award of a slightly soft free kick. The Saints had at least one decent shout for a penalty turned down, and will feel aggrieved at the decision to disallow Gaston Ramirez's second-half effort for a push on Laurent Koscielny.
Arsenal will consign this game to history, and hope for better performances to get through a difficult January. The Gunners may need to make new resolutions just a day into the New Year.
After four league wins on the bounce, Arsenal will be hoping to continue that momentum at St. Mary's. In the reverse fixture the Gunners triumphed with a resounding 6-1 win, and while Southampton have somewhat found their feet in the Premier League since then, this is still a game in which Arsenal have a good chance of continuing their recent fine run.
Three points could be vital. On paper, this is our easiest fixture of a difficult January, in which we travel to Swansea and Chelsea as well as hosting Liverpool and Manchester City. In order to keep pace with our rivals for Champions League qualification, this match is something of a must-win.
I'm hoping that Per Mertesacker has recovered from the bout of illness that kept him out of the game with Newcastle. Southampton's Ricky Lambert is a powerful, commanding centre forward, and Per is the best-suited of our centre backs to cope with his aerial threat. I wouldn't be surprised to see Olivier Giroud start, too. His two-goal cameo at the weekend demonstrated how effective he can be, especially in tandem with Theo Walcott. Hopefully, even if he is shifted out to the wing, Theo can continue his rich vein of form against his former club. It would be great to start 2013 on a high.
* The views expressed in Talking Heads do not necessarily reflect those of Arsenal Football Club or Arsenal Broadband LtdCopyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 2 Jan 2013