Full Time After Extra Time This is a live match. Extra Time Half Time

Southampton vs Arsenal. Premier League.

St. Mary's StadiumAttendance31,643.

Southampton 1

  • C Austin (3rd minute)

Arsenal 1

  • O Giroud (88th minute)

Southampton v Arsenal preview: Mauricio Pellegrino to keep strikers guessing

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 03: Charlie Austin of Southampton celebrates after scoring his sides first goal with Sofiane Boufal of Southampton and Ryan
Image: Charlie Austin has scored three goals in his last two starts for Southampton

Southampton boss Mauricio Pellegrino will keep his strikers guessing as to who will lead the line as Arsenal visit St Mary's on Sunday (kick-off 12pm).

Charlie Austin, Shane Long and Manolo Gabbiadini are all in contention to start against the Gunners, with Pellegrino likely to stick to his tactics of deploying a lone striker.

Austin has scored three in his last two starts, having not been named in a Premier League starting XI until the 4-1 win over Everton last month. He has rotated with Long for the last four Saints games, while Gabbiadini last started in a 1-0 home defeat to Burnley on November 4.

"Obviously our three strikers are different," Pellegrino said. "They have different profiles and different qualities but the connection between them is good.

Jack Wilshere
Image: Jack Wilshere is pushing for a Premier League start

"I think we can play with different strikers and keep the same idea, we know some are better at keeping the ball and we know Shane and Manolo are maybe better at running in behind and I think we have to adapt to every situation."

Austin is arguably the favourite to be given the nod given he has returned to the side and started to score goals, including the equaliser in last weekend's 1-1 draw at Bournemouth.

The 28-year-old had gone almost a calendar year without a Premier League goal before he netted twice in the 4-1 victory over Everton and followed that up by rescuing a point at the Vitality Stadium.

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Now Pellegrino, who praised Austin's recent efforts in training as part of the reason behind his recall, wants to see the former QPR forward kick on.

"Hopefully he will continue in the same way now his confidence is high," he added. "He has scored three goals in his last two games, that is important for him but it is also important for the team."

Team news

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Southampton boss Mauricio Pellegrino expects Arsenal to be challenging for honours at the end of the season

Arsenal are sweating over the fitness of Shkodran Mustafi ahead of Sunday's trip to the south coast.

The defender was forced off early on in last weekend's defeat to Manchester United and could be out of the St Mary's clash with a thigh problem.

Santi Cazorla (ankle) is the only other absentee with manager Arsene Wenger set to recall a host of first-team players rested for Thursday's 6-0 Europa League win over BATE Borisov.

Southampton full-back Cedric Soares will miss the visit of the Gunners due to a hamstring injury suffered in the recent 2-1 loss at Manchester City.

Saints boss Mauricio Pellegrino has no other injury concerns and must decide which of his strikers will be given the nod to lead the line against Arsenal.

DEC 07/17:  (2ndL) Mathieu Debuchy celebrates scoring with (L) Olivier GIroud and (R) Francis Coquelin in Europa League game against BATE Borisov.
Image: Arsene Wenger will make wholesale changes from the side that beat BATE Borisov 6-0 on Thursday evening

Opta stats

Southampton have only lost one of their last six home Premier League games against Arsenal (W2 D3), though it was in the last such meeting back in May (0-2).

Arsenal haven't won successive away league games against Southampton since August 1997 - but they did win twice at St Mary's last season, earning a 5-0 victory in an FA Cup fourth-round match thanks to a Theo Walcott hat-trick, and a 2-0 win in the Premier League.

Only two Arsenal players have scored more goals in their first 15 Premier League appearances for the club than Alexandre Lacazette (8) - Alexis Sanchez (9) and Ian Wright (10).

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Watch a preview of Sunday's Premier League fixtures which include the Merseyside derby and the Manchester derby.

No Premier League player has made more Premier League appearances without starting a game than Olivier Giroud this season (12, level with Diafra Sakho) - at a single club, only Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Man Utd (17) has more Premier League substitute goals than Giroud does for Arsenal (16), including three this season.

Arsenal have already recovered as many points from losing positions this season as they managed in the entirety of last season (9) and won more matches from behind this season (3) than last season (2).

Charlie Austin has scored seven goals in his last 10 Premier League starts for Southampton, including three in his last two.

Merson's prediction

Before last week, I thought it was impossible to play that well and lose a game. Man Utd were second best at the Emirates and won 3-1.

But this is a nice game for Arsenal. Southampton are a nice team. On a lovely pitch, Southampton aren't going to really get at Arsenal, and these are the games that Arsenal like, and play their best football. If they play at the same level as last week, then Southampton won't be able to handle them.

PAUL PREDICTS: 1-3 (12/1 with Sky Bet)

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Arsenal are Sky Bet's even-money favourites for the victory with Southampton priced at 13/5, the same price as a draw. Alexandre Lacazette heads the first goalscorer betting at 7/2 while Charlie Austin, who is enhanced from 11/2 to 15/2 to score a header in Sky Bet's Price Boosts, is considered the hosts' main threat at 6/1.

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