Arsenal's star striker set to stun sorry Southampton
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang can add to Gunners goal tally
Sky Sports Premier Legaue, 2.15pm Sunday
Mark Hughes started his reign at Southampton with a victory at Wigan in the FA Cup quarter-finals but the afterglow of that win was soon banished by last weekend’s dismal defeat at fellow strugglers West Ham.
The Saints’ 3-0 loss at the London Stadium followed a reverse by the same scoreline at Newcastle in what proved to be Mauricio Pellegrino’s final game in charge.
Only tailed-off West Brom have won fewer Premier League matches than Southampton and with Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City among their final seven opponents of the campaign, relegation is looming large.
The timing of their trip to the Emirates might have helped their cause, with Arsenal heading to Russia for the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final against CSKA Moscow this week.
However, the ease with which the Gunners tore apart a veteran CSKA defence in Thursday’s 4-1 first-leg win, coupled with their ruthless form against the weaker teams in the Premier League this season, suggests the Saints could be set for more trouble.
Arsene Wenger’s team selection will be a significant factor in the betting. Henrikh Mkhitaryan is injured and Laurent Koscielny is likely to be rested but striker Alexandre Lacazette could drop to the bench despite his brace against CSKA.
That was the Frenchman’s first start in more than two months and Wenger will not gamble with his fitness, especially as fellow forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is ineligible for Europa League fixtures.
While Arsenal as a club are purely focused on European glory, Gabon star Aubameyang must make do with league action but he is a natural goalscorer who has struck five times in six top-flight outings for his new club.
That tally might have been even more impressive – he missed a penalty against Manchester City and passed up the chance of a hat-trick last Sunday against Stoke to allow Lacazette to take Arsenal’s second spot-kick.
One positive for Saints is that strikers Charlie Austin, Manolo Gabbiadini and Shane Long are all fit – a rare occurrence this season – and it is 3-4 that both teams score.
But Arsenal have won all 11 of their home league games against teams below them in the table by an aggregate score of 34-6, and Aubameyang may well set them on the path to another victory.
P-E Aubameyang first goalscorer
1pt 100-30 bet365
Henrikh Mkhitaryan (knee) and David Ospina (ankle) are out but striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who is ineligible for the Europa League, should return up front.
Mario Lemina (illness) will be assessed before kick-off but Sam McQueen (groin) is a definite absentee.
Arsenal have won all 11 home Premier League games against teams below them in the table.
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