Arsenal are not yet panicking in their top-four race, as manager Mikel Arteta expects “twists” before the end of the season.
The Gunners head to Southampton on Saturday having suffered a setback in their bid for Champions League qualification last week when they lost at home to Brighton and Hove Albion.
That result allowed rivals Tottenham to move three points clear of Arteta’s men in fourth place, although Arsenal have a game in hand and will visit Tottenham Hotspur Stadium next month.
For this reason, Arteta is confident the Brighton defeat alone will not decide Arsenal’s season. He is keen to forget about that loss and move on to the Southampton game.
“There’s going to be some twists still, for sure,” he told reporters.”The pressure and situation is going to keep changing between now and the end of the season. We have to be focused on us and what we have to do.
“Every game (is important), but obviously when you lose, the next game takes more importance and we know that.”
Arsenal’s defeat was at least by a narrow 2-1 scoreline; Southampton are back at home, where they lost 6-0 to Chelsea last week.
“You get this experience (of bouncing back from big defeats) when you are manager of this football club, and we have had this working together,” said Saints manager Ralph Hasenhuttl. “There is still a lot to win this season, we have still a good situation with 36 points.
“It is tight in the middle of the table, and we have to find our way back to the basics, the fundamentals, and this is the goal for the weekend.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Southampton – Armando Broja
Southampton’s defence was a big issue last week, of course, but they also missed the presence of Broja up front as he sat out against parent club Chelsea. The striker did not escape Hasenhuttl’s calls for improvement, however, as he demanded the loan man “find a way back to his best performances”.
Arsenal – Alexandre Lacazette
Lacazette has scored only four goals this season and is set to be replaced by a new signing when the transfer window opens, but he remains a starter for now and at least has a good record against Saints. He has been involved in seven goals in his past six league appearances in this fixture.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Southampton have lost their past two Premier League home games against Arsenal, as many as they had in their previous 10 against them at St Mary’s (W4 D4). Saints have not lost three consecutive home league games against the Gunners since a run of four between 1968 and 1971.
– Arsenal have lost just one of their last 12 Premier League games against Southampton (W7 D4) and are looking to complete their first league double over Saints since 2016-17.
– Since a goalless draw in February 2016, Southampton have scored first in seven of their 11 Premier League meetings with Arsenal. However, they have only gone on to win one of those seven (D3 L3), a 3-2 victory in December 2018.
– Arsenal have lost their past two Premier League games, last losing three in a row in their first three of the campaign in August. The Gunners lost 2-1 at home to Brighton last week but have not lost a league game on consecutive Saturdays since November 2008.
– Three of the past seven occasions when a side have lost a Premier League match by six or more goals have been Southampton (0-9 vs Leicester, 0-9 vs Man Utd, 0-6 vs Chelsea), with all three coming under Hasenhuttl. It is only the third instance of a manager losing three games by six or more goals with the same club, along with Danny Wilson at Barnsley and Roberto Martinez at Wigan Athletic.