The Breakdown

The Breakdown: Southampton v Arsenal preview

We are back in Premier League action on Sunday when we travel to St Mary’s Stadium to take on Southampton.

Ahead of the game, tactical expert Michael Cox and former Gunner Adrian Clarke examine our opponents in detail.

THE MANAGER

MC: Former Argentine international Mauricio Pellegrino has coached both Estudiantes and Independiente in his homeland, plus Valencia and Alaves in Spain, where he spent much of his playing career. He particularly impressed in his sole season with Alaves, taking the club to the Copa del Rey final and the top half of La Liga.

FORMATION

MC: There was a brief experiment with a five-man defence in an unfortunate 2-1 defeat to Manchester City, but Pellegrino has basically been a 4-2-3-1 man this season. The recent form of Charlie Austin has been a huge bonus – he’s scored three goals in two starts, a welcome return with Shane Long and Manolo Gabbiadini struggling for goals.

STRENGTHS

MC: Southampton are well-organised and strong in midfield. Oriol Romeu sits deep and controls the game, allowing Steven Davis to scamper forward into attack, and Mario Lemina to demonstrate his all-round technical quality.

DANGERMAN

MC: Dusan Tadic can drift in and out of matches, but when on form he’s often superb, bamboozling opponents with his dribbling, feinting to go inside then going down the outside before crossing. He’s often been fielded in a No 10 role this season, where his through balls are more obvious.

AC: Sofiane Boufal is a player of real ability. At this stage of his career, he’s a one in 10 kind of guy in terms of producing that man-of-the-match display. Hopefully that won’t come against us, but he’s certainly got the ability. 

AREAS TO TARGET

MC: Goalkeeper Fraser Forster has often played excellently against Arsenal and is superb at close-range reaction stops, but seems less comfortable against long-range efforts.

AC: Forster has had two good games on the spin because he was decent against Manchester City and Bournemouth last time out. Maybe he’s coming into form. But I just don’t think he is going to replicate the form he showed a few years ago. Hit your shots low and early.

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