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Premiership MD 11: Arsenal v. Southampton

Will3172010-04-29 05:40:22 +0000 #1
Remaining top despite last week's defeat, can Arsenal show some bouncebackability against Southampton today? Funnily enough, following our last EPL defeat before last week, against Leeds in May 2003, was the Premiership fixture against Southampton! Same again hopefully, that match we won 6-1. And with the 3 main strikers out for Saints, despite Arsenal's injuries, there's every reason to anticipate a large margin of victory again!



3-0 or 4-0, I think. I'm confident.

BBC Sport - 30.10.04

Arsenal v. Southampton



Highbury

Saturday, 30 October

Kick-off: 1500 BST

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Arsenal have a number of injuries with Sol Campbell (calf) out, and goalkeeper Jens Lehmann (hamstring) and Ashley Cole (knee) doubtful.

Cole has a late fitness test and Manuel Almunia stands by to replace Lehmann.

Southampton will reward Dexter Blackstock for his midweek hat-trick with a place in the starting line-up.

Kevin Phillips, James Beattie, Peter Crouch and Marian Pahars are out and there are doubts over Fabrice Fernandes and Graeme Le Saux.

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Arsenal (from): Almunia, Lehmann, Edu, Henry, Vieira, Cole, Pires, Bergkamp, Cygan, Ljungberg, Van Persie, Lauren, Fabregas, Gilberto, Reyes, Flamini, Clichy, Toure.

Southampton (from): Niemi, Kenton, Lundekvam, Jakobsson, Van Damme, Nilsson, Delap, A.Svensson, McCann, Blackstock, Ormerod, Best, Fernandes, Telfer, Higginbotham, Cranie, Mills, Griffit, Blayney.

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BIG-MATCH FACTS

ARSENAL return to square one as they prepare to face struggling Southampton at Highbury, in a match they will test their resolve. The Gunners must lift themselves having had their amazing 49-match unbeaten Premiership record smashed by Manchester United last Sunday - a run started by a 6-1 home victory over Southampton on 7 May 2003. They need at least a draw from this game to guarantee they remain top of the table. The match pits the highest and joint lowest scorers in the top division.

Despite failing to score for the first time in any competition this season at Old Trafford last weekend, the defending champions, who host Panathinaikos in the Champions League on Tuesday, have still won more Premiership matches than any other club (eight), scored more goals (29), and are aiming to extend an unbeaten home League record to 25.

The Londoners have never been beaten at home by Southampton in the Premiership (nine wins, three draws). They completed the 'double' over them last season with a 2-0 victory in this corresponding fixture when Thierry Henry scored his 100th Premier League goal.

SOUTHAMPTON head for North London on an eight-match winless streak in the top League, without a goal in four Premiership outings and with only goal difference separating them from the bottom rung of the Premiership table. Their ever-present Premiership status could be in jeopardy. They've not scored in three League and Cup games against Arsenal, and could face the backlash from a wounded Gunners outfit.

This will be Steve Wigley's 11th match since succeeding Paul Sturrock, and so far he has four draws and five defeats in the Premiership to his name, plus two victories over Northampton and Colchester in the Carling Cup. Saints have scored just six goals in ten top flight encounters and are yet to claim maximum points on the road.

The Solent side have lost their last four League and Cup meetings with the Gunners, and have only won a League game on Arsenal turf twice in their history. Southampton's only maximum in the last 32 League visits to Highbury was 0-1 in the top flight on 21 November 1987. Subsequent trips to the North London venue have resulted in four draws and 12 defeats.

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Referee: Matt Messias (South Yorkshire)

This will be Matt Messias' fifth Premiership match in charge this season. He's yet to issue a red card.

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SEQUENCES/RECENT FORM

ARSENAL

Club stats

Fixtures

1st 25 points

Highest achievable after Saturday's games: STAY TOP

Lowest could fall: 2nd

One defeat in 23 games League and Cup games (15 wins, seven draws, one defeat).

One loss in 50 Premiership matches (36 wins, 13 draws, one loss).

One reverse in all competitions this season (11 wins, three draws, one defeat).

Won eight top tier encounters - one more than the next nearest, Chelsea and Everton.

One of three clubs to have lost just once in the top tier this term. The others are Chelsea and Manchester United.

Most prolific scorers in the top tier. Their 29 goals is eight more than the total of the second highest, Newcastle.

Holding a goal difference of +19. Chelsea hold the next highest at +10.

Scored 17 League goals in five matches at Highbury. Newcastle are the next highest scorers of home Premiership goals with 12.

Their ten League encounters have produced 39 goals (29 for, 10 against, averaging 3.9 per game).

Scored first in all but two of their League encounters.

Built the Premiership's longest winning sequence so far this season - five games.

At their most dangerous in the middle 15 minutes of the second half of Premiership games, when nine of the 29 goals have been netted.

Lost by more than a single goal once in 56 Premiership games (away to Manchester United last time out).

Won 20 and drawn five Premiership games at Highbury since losing 2-3 to Leeds on 4 May 2003.

SOUTHAMPTON

Club stats

Fixtures

18th 6 points

Highest achievable after Saturday's games: 14th

Lowest could fall: BOTTOM

One win in five in all competitions.

Not won in eight League games.

Picked up just three points from the last available 24.

The 3-2 win over Blackburn on 21 August is Southampton's only League maximum this season, and only win in 15 Premiership matches.

Lost five and drawn three in the Premiership since Steve Wigley took the reigns from Paul Sturrock, added to the two defeats when Wigley was in caretaker charge before Sturrock's arrival.

One of four clubs to have claimed just one Premiership victory. Only Norwich are winless.

One of four clubs to have lost six Premiership matches. The others are Blackburn, Crystal Palace and Fulham.

One of three clubs to have dropped as many as 24 Premiership points. The others are Blackburn and Norwich.

Scored only six times in the top division. Only Spurs have an equally low return.

Failed to score in six top League encounters - more than any other club.

Completed 397 minutes (six hours, 37 minutes) of Premiership football without scoring a goal.

Scored first in only two top tier encounters. Only Norwich have fared less well - netting the first goal in one match.

Bottom of the Premiership's Last Six Current Form Table with three points from the 18 available.

Scored the quickest top flight goal this season - James Beattie after 12 seconds against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on 28 August.

Kept just three clean sheets in League contests this season.

Managed only three block outs in 18 top League encounters.

Least prolific of all clubs on their Premiership travels, having scored just one away from St Mary's.

Not won away in the highest League this season (one draw, four defeats), nor in seven highest League exchanges away from home.

Drawn one and lost six League games on the road since winning 1-3 at Manchester City on 17 April.

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KEY PLAYER NOTES/POTENTIAL MILESTONES

ARSENAL

Squad profiles

Thierry HENRY is the Premiership's top scorer, and the leading scorer among all Premiership players in all club competitions. The Frenchman has netted nine times - eight in the League.

HENRY scored both goals in last season's corresponding fixture. The Frenchman has scored four times in his Premiership career against Southampton.

Robert PIRES, who scored a brace in Arsenal's last home game against Aston Villa, has netted five in the last four League and Cup matches against Southampton.

PIRES is a hat trick short of 50 Premiership goals.

Fredrik LJUNGBERG is a double short of totalling 50 goals across the European leagues. The Swedish International has scored 38 Premiership goals for Arsenal, in addition to 10 top flight strikes for Halmstads BK in Sweden.

SOUTHAMPTON

Squad profiles

If Fabrice FERNANDES takes the field, he'll be playing the day after his 25th birthday.

If he figures, David PRUTTON will be making his 50th Premiership appearance for Southampton.

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LAST SEASON'S CORRESPONDING GAME:

Arsenal 2-0 Southampton

10 February 2004 - Ref: Neale Barry

Arsenal scorers: Henry 31, 90

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HEAD TO HEAD TOTALS

League: Arsenal 35 wins, Southampton 16, Draws 17

Prem: Arsenal 15 wins, Southampton 4, Draws 5

HEAD TO HEAD at Arsenal

League: Arsenal 21 wins, Southampton 2, Draws 11

Prem: Arsenal 9 wins, Southampton 0, Draws 3


Will3172010-04-29 05:55:28 +0000 #2
Very different from my prediction! In fact, it turned out to be a lucky escape from a second successive defeat. For a few desperate minutes towards the end, staring down the barrel of defeat, we were throwing everyone forward to avoid losing. Henry missed a penalty in the first half, before scoring soon after the hour mark to make it 1-0 Arsenal. But we were given a massive shock when two headed goals in quick succession from Delap around the 80 minute mark gave Southampton the lead! Everyone was desperately thrown forward like I said, and Van Persie was able to salvage a point through an 18-yard shot, with less than 30 seconds of injury time left on the clock. Phew! Good job I didn't go to this match after all, even though it could have been worse. In one Premiership week, we've now recorded one defeat and one draw. So this is what it's like for the other fans...
Will3172010-04-29 05:58:37 +0000 #3
Here's the BBC match report...

BBC Sport - 30.10.04

Arsenal 2-2 Southampton



Robin van Persie rescued a point for Arsenal with a last-minute strike as Southampton were denied a come-from-behind win at Highbury.

Thierry Henry put Arsenal ahead after earlier missing a penalty but Southampton equalised when Delap headed home Neil McCann's precise corner.

The pair combined again, when McCann crossed and Delap headed his second to put Saints ahead.

But substitute Van Persie curled in a left-foot shot for a late leveller.

The Dutchman's first Premiership goal ensured Arsenal avoided a second successive defeat after suffering their first in 50 matches last week at Old Trafford.

And with Chelsea winning convincingly at West Brom, defeat would have seen the Gunners surrender their place at the top of the table.

But their determination to bounce back from the loss to Manchester United last weekend was evident from the kick-off.

Jose Antonio Reyes and Henry's pace and direct running made life difficult for Saints' right-back Darren Kenton.

But it was a clumsy challenge on the less pacey Dennis Bergkamp that saw Kenton concede an early penalty.

Henry stepped up to take the kick, but crashed his effort against the foot of the post.

It was the second time the Highbury woodwork had been blasted, Nilsson having smashed his volley against the upright for the visitors after connecting with Danny Higginbotham's cross.

The Saints, looking for their first win in eight league games, continued to keep Arsenal at bay with their well-organised defence.

And Arsenal looked to have lost their most potent attacking threat when they were forced to replace Reyes, who suffered a wrist injury after Nilsson stepped on his hand,

But moments after the switch, the hosts took the lead.

Bergkamp's long ball over the top found Henry, who collected the ball with one touch and slipped the ball beyond Niemi with his second.

It must have been a relief for Henry, who had been foiled by a superb save from Niemi in the first half.

Henry sparked into life, creating an excellent chance for Freddie Ljungberg to add a second goal soon after.

The Frenchman sprinted down the left and squared for Ljungberg, but Niemi athletically denied the Swedish midfielder.

And Arsenal quickly regretted the missed chance as Delap headed a rare goal from a rare Saints attack to put his side back on terms.

The shock was still reverberating around Highbury when Delap did it again, once more powering home a superb McCann cross.

The amazing turnaround looked set to give Steve Wigley his first win since taking over as Saints boss.

However, in a frantic finish, Arsenal substitute Cesc Fabregas worked the ball to Van Persie, who still had plenty to do in a packed penalty area.

But the Dutchman checked inside his defender and curled a shot into the top right-hand corner.

And there was even time for Van Persie to spurn a golden chance to win the match, glancing a header into the arms of a grateful Niemi despite being unmarked.

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Arsenal: Lehmann, Lauren, Cygan, Toure, Cole, Ljungberg (Van Persie 83), Edu (Fabregas 65), Vieira, Reyes (Pires 61), Bergkamp, Henry.

Subs Not Used: Senderos, Almunia.

Booked: Vieira.

Goals: Henry 67, Van Persie 90.

Southampton: Niemi, Lundekvam, Jakobsson, Higginbotham, Telfer, Anders Svensson (Prutton 85), Delap, Nilsson, Kenton, Ormerod (McCann 75), Blackstock (Best 90).

Subs Not Used: Blayney, Baird.

Booked: Telfer, Kenton, Ormerod, McCann.

Goals: Delap 80, 85.

Att: 38,141

Ref: M Messias (S Yorkshire).
Will3172010-04-29 06:16:22 +0000 #4
Wenger reckons the defeat to Man Utd last weekend affected the Arsenal performance today. It makes sense I suppose, after going so long without losing it's a bit of a shock when you finally do. It will probably take another game or two to get over it based on today's match. I'd like to see some bouncebackability as soon as possible though.

BBC Sport - 30.10.04

Wenger blames Man Utd hangover

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger says his side only managed a 2-2 draw with Southampton because they had not got over the defeat by Manchester United.

He said: "The defeat was a big shock to us and you could see it wasn't out of their [the players'] system.

"Our passing was more laboured, it was not sharp and didn't have the same quick vision. It was less spontaneous.

"I am very worried about the goals we are conceding. Had we lost it would have put us in a confidence crisis."

However, Wenger feels that Robin van Persie's last-gasp equaliser could prove a catalyst for a return to form.

He said: "I think van Persie's goal will be a turning point for us. I don't think it was anything to do with motivation, it was a shock for us to lose a game last week.

"We did not bounce back straight away. We didn't find our sharp passing game.

"We did not find our fluency. But in the end we could have won it by two or three even by being average."

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