Theo Walcott embraces his former teammates during the reverse fixture in September.
Where: St. Mary's Stadium, Southampton, England
When: Tuesday, Jan. 01, 12:30 p.m. ET
This match is shaping up to be a big one for both sides.
Southampton have lost just two of their last nine league games. It is a run that has brought them to within one point of safety. Arsenal, meanwhile, have recovered from a comprehensive home defeat by Swansea to win four league games on the spin.
After two creditable draws on the road at Fulham and Stoke, Southampton will now be looking to convert their home performances into points. Victory over Arsenal would be a huge bonus, but it could equally be just the sort of fillip to kick-start their season.
For Arsenal, this game goes down as a must-win. The Gunners face a very difficult January, going away to Chelsea and hosting Manchester City and Liverpool. With respect to Southampton, the London club will view this as a chance to give themselves a points cushion ahead of tougher ties.
Gervinho was the hero against Southampton at The Emirates.
When the two sides met at the Emirates in September, Arsenal emerged as 6-1 winners. It was a difficult day for the Saints, who lost Jos Hooiveld to injury early on and were forced to throw Maya Yoshida in at the deep end for his Premier League debut.
Arsenal were rampant on the day, with new hope at centre-forward Gervinho grabbing a brace.
How his star fas fallen since then—Gervinho will only be on the bench for this particular encounter, having fallen behind Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott in the pecking order for that central spot.
Southampton will be keen to show they've lost some of the defensive innocence that cost them so dearly at the Emirates, whereas Arsenal will be keen to show they still have the attacking firepower to dismantle a side.
Judging by the seven goals they put past Newcastle, they won't have too many problems on that front.
Adam Lallana's injury has been a huge blow to Southampton.
Saints captain Adam Lallana is likely to be absent again with the knee problem he picked up against Reading. Southampton have been very coy about revealing the full extent of his injury, presumably because they do not want to give away whether or not it will influence their dealings in January's transfer window.
Full-back Nathaniel Clyne could be available again after missing the Stoke game with a knock picked up in the Boxing Day fixture with Fulham.
Arsenal will be hoping Per Mertesacker recovers from the bout of sickness that kept him out of the game with Newcastle. Other than that, Abou Diaby and Andre Santos have only just begun training, so are not fit to return to the squad.
Olivier Giroud's two-goal cameo against Newcastle may have earned him a start at St. Mary's.
Predicted Southampton Team (4-3-3): K Davis; Clyne, Fonte, Yoshida, Shaw; Schneiderlin, Cork, S Davis; Ramirez, Lambert, Puncheon
Gaston Ramirez should return to the Southampton lineup after being rested at Stoke. Other than that, much will depend on how much Nigel Adkins feels the need to rotate. I expect him to keep faith with most of the side that performed so well at the Britannia Stadium.
Predicted Arsenal Team (4-2-3-1): Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Arteta, Wilshere; Walcott, Cazorla, Podolski; Giroud.
For Arsenal, I think Olivier Giroud's two-goal showing against Newcastle will win him a return to the side, meaning the in-form Theo Walcott will have to start from his less-favoured wide position. Jack Wilshere could be rested, although I think it's more likely he'll miss the FA Cup match with Swansea at the weekend.