The Gunners have dropped points in their last two league matches, which has allowed second-placed Manchester City to close the gap to four points with a game in hand, while Southampton sit bottom of the division, four points from the safety of 17th position.
Arsenal’s title charge has been halted somewhat in their last two matches, dropping points against both Liverpool and West Ham United despite being two goals ahead in the two games at Anfield and the London Stadium respectively.
Arsenal’s lead at the summit is four points over second-placed Man City, who have a game in hand, so they will be bidding to move seven points clear of the English champions on Friday night.
The top two will meet in a gigantic clash at the Etihad Stadium next Wednesday, meaning that there is no room for error in this game for Arteta’s team, who have won 23, drawn five and lost three of their 31 league matches during an excellent campaign.
Arsenal – bidding to win their first Premier League title since 2004 – have the second-best home record in the league this term, picking up 38 points from 15 matches, but they will be welcoming a Southampton side that have been better on their travels than in front of their own fans. But the Gunners will be desperate to return to winning ways.