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    • A Sánchez (60th minute)
    • O Giroud (83rd minute)

    Southampton v Arsenal preview: Laurent Koscielny a doubt for Gunners

    Oliver Yew

    Wednesday 10 May 2017 19:01, UK

    Watch a preview of Wednesday's Premier League match between Southampton and Arsenal at St Mary's

    Arsenal are sweating on the fitness of Laurent Koscielny ahead of Wednesday's Premier League clash at Southampton.

    The defender is struggling with a calf problem but manager Arsene Wenger is hoping he will pass a fitness test to be involved at St Mary's.

    "We have some worries for Koscielny he might not be available, he will have a test today," Wenger said. "We will make the decision after training."

    Arsenal boosted their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League thanks to Sunday's 2-0 win over Manchester United. However, the Gunners remain seven points behind third-placed Liverpool with two games in hand and six points behind Man City in fourth with one game in hand, leaving the clash against Southampton as another must-win encounter.

    When asked about the race for the top four, the Frenchman added: "For us, we just want to win out games. That's all we can do. We had a bad spell but we have recovered from it. We need to show we can be consistent until the end of the season."

    Meanwhile, Southampton manager Claude Puel could welcome back striker Charlie Austin, who has been out with a long-term injury.

    Nathan Redmond celebrates with Charlie Austin
    Image: Charlie Austin (R) could return from injury for Southampton

    Austin, who still the club's top scorer this season with nine goals, has been absent since December with a shoulder injury but he returned to action for Southampton's U23s on Friday night and could be in contention to face the Gunners.

    More on this story

    "It was important to see a game with Charlie," Puel said. "Charlie and Matt Targett played for one hour, they have worked hard in training sessions and we will see if they can participate this season.

    "With Charlie, four or five months without a game means the intensity is very difficult. I am happy with his work and we will see if he can play in the next games. He has worked very well. We need to see if he can continue this work and get physically fit it will be interesting for him."

    Team news

    Matt Targett, who played alongside Austin in Southampton's U23s on Friday, could return from a hamstring problem.

    Defender Virgil van Dijk (ankle) and back-up goalkeeper Alex McCarthy (hamstring) remain on the sidelines.

    Granit Xhaka limped out of the win over Manchester United but should be fit to face Southampton.

    Lucas Perez is also available following a thigh problem but Shkodran Mustafi (thigh) and Santi Cazorla (Achilles) remain sidelined.

    SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 28:  Lucas Perez of Arsenal looks on during the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round match between Southampton and Arsenal at St Mar
    Image: Lucas Perez could feature for the Gunners

    Opta stats

    Southampton are looking to win three consecutive home league matches against Arsenal for the first time since 1985.

    Arsenal are winless in their five previous away visits to St Mary's in the Premier League, last winning there in December 2003 (D3 L2).

    Wenger has won only 25% of his Premier League games at St. Mary's (two of eight) as opposed to 60% at the Dell (three of five).

    However, the Gunners did beat Southampton 5-0 away in the fourth round of the FA Cup this season. Theo Walcott scored a hat-trick in that match, while Danny Welbeck got the other two.

    LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 07:  Danny Welbeck of Arsenal celebrates scoring his sides second goal with Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal during the Premier League match
    Image: Danny Welbeck scored twice in Arsenal's FA Cup win at Southampton in January

    Shane Long scored twice the last time Southampton hosted Arsenal in the Premier League, a 4-0 rout on Boxing Day 2015.

    Wenger's side have lost five of their last six away Premier League games - the same number they'd lost in their previous 27 on the road in the competition.

    Southampton have failed to score in three of their last four home Premier League, the exception being a 3-1 win over Crystal Palace.

    preview image 2:56
    Highlights: Liverpool 0-0 Southampton

    Southampton have managed just 10 shots on target across their last five Premier League games and recorded none against Liverpool in the 0-0 draw on Sunday.

    Manolo Gabbiadini scored four goals in his first three Premier League appearances (248 mins), but since then he's failed to score and attempted just one shot on target in 306 Premier League minutes (five apps).

    Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has provided seven assists for Arsenal in the Premier League, including two in his last match against Manchester United. This is the same total as his previous five seasons combined with Arsenal.

    Charlie Nicholas' prediction

    It's another side who like goalless draws for Arsenal and it's another must-win game with the slender chance of a top-four finish still just about there.

    Southampton have caused them problems over the last few seasons, but I think Claude Puel is asking a lot of his team to go out and produce another dogged performance. That result against Liverpool must have taken a lot out of them.

    Aaron Ramsey is playing in more of an advanced role and he's much better when he can make those runs, while it also brings better balance to the team with him playing along with Danny Welbeck.

    preview image 2:34
    Highlights: Arsenal 2-0 Manchester Utd

    Their movement brings more out of Mesut Ozil compared to the static Olivier Giroud.

    They are the three most important Arsenal players at the moment as Alexis Sanchez is just pretending to be really interested, coming deep to get the ball rather than really having a go at defenders.

    The other week he didn't trouble Jesus Navas and he didn't even have a go at the young lad Axel Tuanzebe on Sunday.

    I think the pressure is off in terms of the top four and we know that suits this Arsenal team, so I'm expecting them to win this, but even if they do I still won't be expecting them to qualify for the Champions League.

    Charlie predicts: 0-2 and Ramsey to score first - 55/1 with Sky Bet

    Laurent Koscielny applauds the Arsenal fans after the 3-1 defeat by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge
    Image: Laurent Koscielny is a doubt for Arsenal's clash with Southampton


    Arsenal are Sky Bet's 21/20 favourites with Southampton 12/5 for the victory while the draw is priced at 13/5.

    Wenger's men were cut from 8/1 to 4/1 for a top-four finish after gaining ground on Liverpool at the weekend thanks to the Saints, who are 14/1 to grind out another goalless draw.

    Alexis Sanchez is the 4/1 favourite in the first goalscorer betting with Manolo Gabbiadini considered the hosts' main threat at 6/1 to break the deadlock.