Claude Puel has done a good job in his first season at Southampton, but his stay on the bench of the southern team will depend on the last four meetings of the season. The Saints can end up in any position between 8 and 16. And the board looks set to end the old Nice coach’s streak at St. Mary’s if he fails to finish at least in the top ten.
True that Southampton has seen a lack of form in the Premier League, but this hasn’t affected them reaching the League Cup final. His squad has less talent than that of his predecessors, and the lack of depth has been evident. Charlie Austin could return to Arsenal to try to solve that problem, while defender Virgil van Dijk , coveted by all the great Englishmen, is still down.
Arsenal has revived their hopes of qualifying in the top four after beating Manchester United on Sunday. The Gunners have a game in hand on Manchester City and two on Liverpool, but they can not make a single mistake in the four remaining clashes. Even if they get the twelve points, they could finish out of the top 4 for the first time in two decades.
The most difficult encounters that remain are the next two that Arsene Wenger will play at home. Arsenal has not won two straight away since October when they beat Hull and Burnley.
Laurent Koscielny is doubtful, and his loss would be a breach with the new scheme of three central defenders that Wenger has implanted since Shkodran Mustafi injury. Granit Xhaka should be recovered and ready to play.
The market expects a lot of goals this Wednesday. And it is perhaps a surprise that when we consider that the last two matches of Southampton have finished 0-0, including a complicated trip to Anfield. In the last three Arsenal clashes there have only been five goals in total, and in none have scored both sets.