Southampton and Arsenal were the entertainers in high scoring thrillers on Saturday and will square up at St Mary’s for the second live televised Premier League game on New Years Day.
Nigel Adkins side squandered a great chance to climb out of the drop zone against Stoke after leading 3-1 at half time in the Britannia. Guly do Prado missed an open goal which would have to put the game out of reach before the Potters fought back to claim a dramatic 3-3 draw. Adkins may have settled for a draw before the game but two dropped points puts added pressure for the visit of Arsenal who are looking for their fifth consecutive league win.
The Gunners have been merciless in their treatment of the league’s strugglers in the last two weeks; putting five goals past relegation threatened Reading and scoring seven times against out-of-form Newcastle at the weekend. Wenger’s side are back on song after a poor spell in November and early December and will be confident of picking up three points to stay in the reckoning for a Champions League spot.
Arsenal go into this game as worthy favourites and can be backed at 8/11 with BetVictor who go 4/1 Southampton and 3/1 the draw.
Theo Walcott’s return to the Arsenal line up, playing in his favoured central striker’s role, is paying dividends for Wenger. The England international has scored in six of his last ten games in all competitions to become the Gunners leading scorer and his hat-trick on Saturday was his second of the season. Bet365 is offering 11/2 for Walcott to be first player to score and 11/8 to score at anytime.
Only Aston Villa have a worse defensive record than Southampton, but the Saints have improved dramatically in that area as the season has progressed. Prior to Saturday, Southampton had not let in more than a goal in eight games and have conceded a respectable 13 times at St Mary’s where their problem has been at the other end, scoring 14 goals in 10 games. The bookies have been shortening prices in all the Overs markets from Over 1.5 to Over 5.5 goals after Saturday’s high scores but there’s a temptation to buck opinion and take 13/10 for Under 2.5 goals at bet365.