Mark Lawrenson has told BBC Sport that he expects Mikel Arteta to name a strong side for Arsenal’s FA Cup tie with Southampton as he backed the Gunners to win 2-1 at the weekend.
The all-Premier League clash was set up on Tuesday as the Saints beat Shrewsbury in their delayed third round tie.
Arsenal had already booked their spot by beating Newcastle. And they will be hoping to continue their hugely impressive run of form since Boxing Day.
They have won four of their last six in all competitions. And with Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side taking one victory from their own last six in the top flight, Lawrenson suggested that he expects Arsenal to book their spot in the fifth round.
“Southampton’s form has dipped a bit since these two sides drew 1-1 at Emirates Stadium before Christmas, which left them third in the Premier League,” he told BBC Sport, as he predicted a 2-1 Arsenal win.
“Arsenal are on a roll, though, with four wins and a draw in their past five league games. Their confidence must be building all the time, so why risk ruining that by fielding a weakened team here? I don’t think they will.”
It could certainly be one of the most exciting ties of the round. And it will also be one of the more intriguing given that the two teams meet in the Premier League next week.
They are currently separated by just two points in the league – although Southampton have a game in hand. But as previously noted, Arsenal are certainly the team in the ascendency at this point.
Their younger players have really stepped up in the last few weeks. And Arsenal will certainly not want their FA Cup defence to end at this stage.