Arsenal Manager, Arsene Wenger has warned his players not to slip when they visit out-of-form Southampton in the Barclays Premier League on Boxing Day.
Wenger’s side travel to St Mary’s Stadium on Saturday looking for a fourth successive league victory as they look to keep pace with leaders Leicester City.
Arsenal trail Claudio Ranieri’s men by two points, but enjoy a four-point cushion to third-placed Manchester City.
To maintain that difference, they need to remain focused against Ronald Koeman’s side, who have just one point from their last five matches, a 1-1 home draw with bottom club Aston Villa.
“For us the most important thing is to focus on ourselves, and not to speculate too much on any weakness of Southampton,” Wenger said.
“When you look at their team they have the potential to be a very strong team. We have to convince ourselves that again we need a top-level performance.
“Football is pragmatic. No one can predict what will happen in the next 17 games. So we want to go in with same attitude, spirit, and earn the right to win the games.”
Santi Cazorla (knee), Alexis Sanchez (hamstring) and Jack Wilshere (calf), remain sidelined for Arsenal although Sanchez is closer to return than others.
Southampton also welcome their goalkeeper, Maarten Stekelenburg, back after missing two matches with a toe injury.
Facing Arsenal will be a daunting task for the hosts given the impressive recent displays by Wenger’s side, the visitors having beaten title rivals Manchester City 2-1 last time out.
“We know we’re in a difficult situation,” said Koeman, whose side won the fixture 2-0 last season. “We had a bad run last year, but not like this one.
“It is always difficult, it means maybe a lack in confidence and belief, but the best medicine is to win the game. The team is changing a bit, the team is doubting their qualities and not playing as they can, and that’s all about confidence.
“But they have to realise we can play good football, but we need to score when we have chances.”