MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 05: Shkodran Mustafi of Arsenal celebrates after scoring a goal to make it 0-1 during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Arsenal FC at Old Trafford on December 5, 2018 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)

4 Key Battles That Could Decide Southampton's Premier League Clash With Arsenal on Sunday

Ralph Hasenhuttl will take charge of his first home match as Southampton manager when the Saints welcome high-flying Arsenal to the St Mary's Stadium on Sunday.


The newly appointed Austrian is tasked with guiding the club out of relegation trouble, with the Saints currently finding themselves three points off safety.


However, with the visitors likely to be back to full-strength after resting several key stars in their Europa League dead rubber against Qarabag FK, Southampton will have their work cut out in trying to claim a positive result.


With all this in mind, here is a look at the four key battles that could potentially decide the outcome of the game on Sunday afternoon.

4. Charlie Austin vs Laurent Koscielny

Despite scoring just one Premier League goal this season, Austin is likely to lead the line for Southampton on Sunday. A lethal finisher when in form, the striker has failed to match the performances and goals whilst at Queens Park Rangers. 


However, Austin did find himself on the scoresheet when the two sides met at the Emirates last season, and may be given added hope of scoring on Sunday by the prospect of Arsenal's make-shift backline.


Having made his return from injury in the Europa League against Qarabag on Thursday, Laurent Koscielny may well be asked to play a second game in the space of four days to help ease the Gunners' crisis in central defence. Any signs of rust from the former France international will no doubt see Austin pounce. 

3. Nathand Redmond vs Sead Kolasinac

If Unai Emery persists with his recently preferred three at the back formation, then Kolasinac will likely line up as the side's left wing back. Whilst a physically imposing presence when going forward, the Bosnian is sometimes suspect defensively and Redmond will seek to take advantage.


An exciting and dynamic winger on his day, it would be fair to say Redmond has struggled along with his teammates this season. Under Hasenhuttl however, the one-cap England international will hope he can reignite his career, and a game in front of his home fans on Sunday may just be what Redmond needs to do so.

2. Mario Lemina vs Lucas Torreira

In the battle to win central midfield dominance on Sunday, Mario Lemina will come up against Arsenal's summer signing Lucas Torreira. Lemina's physical characteristics should theoretically give him the edge to overwhelm the 5ft 6in Uruguayan.


However, in imposing performances belying his diminutive frame, Torreira has been a revelation for the Gunners since arriving from Sampdoria. A natural defensive midfielder with great tenacity and reading of the game, Torreira will have to have another fine game on Sunday to keep the supremely talented Lemina in check. 

1. Alex McCarthy vs Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

After heading into the game against Manchester United last week with ten goals from his last ten shots on target, Aubameyang's incredible efficiency took a hit after two goalless games. 


Standing in the way of the league's joint-top scorer on Sunday, will be England international Alex McCarthy. The Saints keeper has conceded 30 times in the side's 16 games this season, and will be up against one of European football's most prolific strikers. 


With Aubameyang in excellent goal-scoring form this year, McCarthy will have to be at the top of his game to keep the Gabon international at bay, and give the Saints any hope of claiming a result against a revitalised Arsenal side.