Wenger wary of FA Cup backlash at St Mary's

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The Independent Football

Arsène Wenger expects Southampton to be fired up for revenge when Arsenal put English football's only unbeaten League record on the line at St Mary's tonight.

The Gunners, four points behind the leaders, Manchester United, have racked up 12 wins and six draws from their first 18 fixtures this season.

But Wenger's side are returning to the scene of one of only half-a-dozen defeats they suffered last term. On that day on the south coast, in November last year, Sol Campbell saw red as the Londoners crashed to a 3-2 defeat.

Arsenal have since beaten the Saints twice ­ the 6-1 Premiership demolition at Highbury coming just before the 1-0 success in the FA Cup final. And the Millennium Stadium defeat in particular leaves Wenger fearing his side's superb run without losing will not reach 19 games.

"To do what we've already done in the Premiership this se. But now let's see how we do at Southampton. We want to keep the run going and are prepared and focusing very hard.

"We've beaten them the last two times we played them and the 6-1 played on their minds for the FA Cup final. But it's a different story down there. They're a force at home. It was a tough game there last season and we lost and had Sol sent off."

Wenger revealed he may make "one or two changes" for the game, which could point to the recall of Lauren or Martin Keown, fit again after injuries. Gael Clichy is expected to continue to deputise for Ashley Cole at left-back. The 18-year-old Frenchman impressed in the victory against Wolves and should start again in place of Cole, who completes a three-match ban.

For Southampton, Agustin Delgado hopes he will get the chance to score his first League goal and end a 13-month grievance against Arsenal. The Ecuadorian Delgado thought he had scored for the Saints in their home win against Arsenal in November last season but it was later credited to the defender Toure as an own goal.

With that deleted from his records, Delgado, a £3.2m signing from Necaxa, can point only to a goal at Liverpool in the Carling Cup in two-and-a-half injury-hit years. Delgado is now fully fit and appeared as a substitute in the Boxing Day defeat at Fulham. Strachan may decide to give the powerfully-built striker a starting chance after his team's listless display at Fulham.

Strachan also has the Latvian striker Marian Pahars fit again and midfielder Rory Delap has recovered frominjury. Strachan said: "There are plenty of players to choose from but whoever I decide should play will need to be at his best. If we play like we did against Fulham we will be beaten again."

Delgado, whose contract expires in the summer, is playing for his Premiership future while Kevin Phillips may be selected ahead of Brett Ormerod. Phillips has managed only one League goal all season and is still looking to justify his £2m price tag.

Meanwhile, the goalkeeper Paul Jones has overcome a virus and returns to the squad but Graeme Le Saux is again ruled out by hamstring trouble.

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