England experience can count for Southampton at Arsenal
No fewer than seven of the 11 players that lined up from the start in Southampton’s 4-1 win against Hull last were part of senior and Under-21 squads during the international break.
Such are the trappings of success and the confidence gained from this exposure can ensure an already in-form Saints outfit hold their own against Premier League-leaders Arsenal at the Emirates.
Southampton double chance @ 5/4
Since Mauricio Pochettino took over at St Mary’s in January, the Saints have lost just four of their 13 Premier League away games.
The first of those – a 2-1 loss at Old Trafford – led then Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson to describe the visitor’s performance as the best by an away side in 2012/13 at the Theatre of Dreams.
Southampton currently sit in third place, just three points behind Arsenal and haven’t tasted defeat in the Premier League since the end of August.
New England caps Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez have combined to score six goals between them in the Saints’ last five top-flight matches and should keep their places in the starting line-up in north London.
After relinquishing a 13-game unbeaten run against Borussia Dortmund in October, Arsenal have lost three of their last six games – twice at home – and are readily taken to come up short again here.
Rickie Lambert to score the first goal @ 8/1
The 31-year-old’s recent form for the Saints has persuaded Pochettino to dispense with the services of £15m summer signing Dani Osvaldo for the time being.
Lambert is his club’s top Premier League goalscorer with four so far this season and two of those strikes have come in the last three games.
The Liverpudlian opened proceedings with a goal in the 2-0 win against Fulham at the end of October and scored his side’s second from the spot last time out against Hull.
Lambert will consider himself very much in Roy Hodgson’s thoughts for the 2014 World Cup squad, after a fourth England appearance since the start of the season from the bench against Germany and the former lower-league grafter can stay in the headlines by breaking the deadlock at the Emirates.
Theo Walcott to score at any time @ 5/4
The Compton flyer is back after almost two months out with an abdominal injury and Walcott needs to get a move on if he is to justify odds of 4/6 about making the starting line-up for England’s first 2014 World Cup match.
Walcott left Southampton for Arsenal when just three months shy of his 17th birthday and has scored 40 Premier League goals for the Gunners since, firing home a career-best 14 strikes in the top flight in 2012/13.
The 24-year-old scored against his old club in this fixture last term and has to be good value at odds-against to strike again on his return to full fitness.