As Southampton continue to struggle whilst mired in the drop zone, Arsenal must play better coming out of the international break than they did going in. Or, things could get even uglier for embattled manager Unai Emery.
The Gunners look to keep their season-high Premier League winless rut from reaching five straight matches when they aim to continue their home dominance over Southampton on Saturday.
It's been somewhat of a maddingly inconsistent domestic campaign thus far for Arsenal (4-5-3), who sit sixth in the Premier League table (eight points off the top four), have just three defeats on the season but only two wins since opening with back-to-back triumphs versus Newcastle United and Burnley.
The Gunners dropped to 0-2-2 in their last four league matches after a 2-0 loss at second-place Leicester City in their most recent contest on Nov. 9. That essentially poor spell of form has put more heat on Emery, who did receive a public backing from the club's higher-ups.
However, with Mauricio Pochettino's recent sacking at Spurs, the rumor mill is going wild with the now ex-Tottenham boss being a solid option to replace Emery. Arsenal's current gaffer, meanwhile, is publicly worrying about improving things on the pitch.
"I am with a focus on preparing the matches, and it is very important how we can improve because we have a lot of work to do," Emery told Arsenal's official website. "This is really my only focus.
"I am optimistic, and also I know we need to keep better performances with the team, individually and collectively."
Arsenal have managed just three goals during their current winless slide, and one have posted only game with more than two during league play. The club could get a boost if veteran midfielder Granit Xhaka is finally fit to return this weekend. He has not played a Premier League match since Oct. 27.
Meanwhile, defender Sead Kolasinac is a doubt with hamstring tightness.
The Gunners, 3-3-0 at home during league play this season, are a remarkable 15-5-0 at home versus Southampton since the 1992-93 campaign, and have won three straight in the series at the Emirates.
Stuck in the middle of the drop zone, Southampton (2-2-8) are 0-1-6 since winning at Sheffield United on Sept. 14. Though one has to wonder how safe manager Ralph Hasenhuttl's job is for the moment, the Saints have been more competitive of late with back-to-back 2-1 losses to Manchester City and Everton following that disgraceful 9-0 home defeat to Leicester on Oct. 25.
"I think they are going to be very, very motivated to achieve that three points against us," Emery said of Southampton. "But, I think also we to impose, to work and to show our game plan and our intensity against them (for) 90 minutes on Saturday."
Southampton's Danny Ings scored his team-leading fifth goal against Everton. He recorded a brace in last season's 3-2 home win over the Gunners on Dec. 16.
Arsenal star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored just one of his team-leading eight league goals over his last five contests. He has won on three career top-flight matches versus Southampton.