Southampton vs. Arsenal Preview & Prediction: Expect Both Teams to Score on Sunday
Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images. Pictured: Arsenal standout Gabriel Jesus.
- Will Arsenal secure yet another result against Southampton?
- They face the Saints at home as they sit at the top of the table.
- Anthony Dabbundo breaks down the contest.
Southampton vs. Arsenal Odds
|Over/Under||2.5 (-136 / +110)|
|Day | Time||Sunday | 9 a.m. ET|
|How To Watch||Peacock|
|Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute soccer odds here.|
Arsenal enters Sunday's Premier League fixtures one point ahead of Manchester City atop the table. The Gunners had the midweek off from league fixtures after their match with Manchester City was canceled to make room for a makeup Europa League fixture against PSV Eindhoven on Thursday.
The Gunners won that match, 1-0 at home, and now travel to the English south coast to take on Southampton. Arsenal doesn't have a great history in this fixture after Southampton's 1-0 home win last spring put a major dent in Arsenal's top four chances.
Southampton also played midweek and travelled to Bournemouth. Southampton beat the Cherries, 1-0, giving themselves some breathing room above the relegation zone. The Saints will try to recreate the game plan that Leeds executed last weekend when the Peacocks played Arsenal off the pitch and took an undeserved 1-0 defeat in that match.
The Saints will use their defensive press to try to force high turnovers and create quick strike chances in transition. Arsenal has been excellent this season, but is the defense vulnerable?
The Saints have a textbook identity under manager Ralph Hassenhuttl that has persisted throughout his tenure. They have the fourth-most pressures in the league, the fifth highest pressure success rate and sit fifth in total ball recoveries. They have a young, high-energy group that loves to run around the pitch. However, the lack of investment has left them short on talent and that shows in both penalty areas.
The Saints don't create much in terms of big scoring chances — they rank 14th — and also concede the second most big chances in the league. Because of their defensive pressing nature, they can get exposed if the opponent is able to get enough time on the ball to pass through the midfield and defensive lines.
Southampton's biggest problem in comparison to years past, when they had better underlying numbers, is that they've struggled to keep the ball this season. The Saints rank 20th in ball recoveries allowed and are just 16th in playing through opponents' presses.
They've had some encouraging attacking performances against some of the big six this year, including a goal scored against Spurs and 1.6 xG against Manchester United. Their different style can pose problems for the big six as they aren't used to being pressed as much as they are in this fixture.
Arsenal has taken clear steps forward in turning final-third possessions into clear scoring chances, thanks to improvements from wingers Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli. Add in Gabriel Jesus and Arsenal has produced 1.85 xG per match this season. That's significantly better than last season's 1.53 xG per match.
The Gunners have also improved on the defensive end when you compare their 2022-23 numbers to last year. The xG allowed dipped from 1.26 xGA per match to 1.00 this season. But those numbers are still split dependent because Arsenal hasn't been nearly as good away from home.
The Gunners have a +1.7 xG difference per match at home this season, which is second best in the league behind only Manchester City. Compare this to the road record and you see some concerning indicators. They've played five away matches in the league (Leeds, Manchester United, Crystal Palace, Bournemouth and Brentford).
Their xGD is exactly 0.0 per FBref.com's numbers and they've been quite fortunate to have a +7 actual goal difference in those matches. Regression is coming for the Gunners away from home, especially defensively, where they have conceded just three goals from 5.6 xGA.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Arsenal closed as a one goal favorite on the road at Leeds last weekend and that suggests the market sees Leeds and Southampton as similar teams in quality. I don't see it that way and have Leeds power rated as a solidly better team than the Saints. My projections don't show any value in fading the Gunners away from home this week as I have them projected as a 0.88 goal favorite.
That being said, the Gunners defense has not been nearly as good away from home as it has been at home and I'm looking to play against them. In away matches against non-promoted teams, the Gunners are conceding almost a full expected goal per match on average.
The Saints defense still has major issues to sort out, but the Gunners defense is primed for regression and I bet both teams to score yes at -125.
The Pick: Both Teams to Score Yes (-125)