IT’s 31 years since Saints completed their last league double against Arsenal - and they must be positive if they are to have any chance of another on Sunday.

That is the view of ex-Saints star Steve Williams, who was playing for Arsenal when Alan Shearer’s famous debut hat-trick sunk the Gunners 4-2 at the Dell in April 1988.

Williams was also in the last Arsenal team that lost a league game at home to Saints in November 1987, when Danny Wallace scored the only goal.

The Gunners have struggled for consistency since losing 3-2 to Saints at St Mary’s in December.

Daily Echo:

Steve Williams (left, in his first game against Saints since leaving for Arsenal) and David O'Leary try to stop Danny Wallace

And Williams believes that to capitalise, Saints must not be content to sit back and hit Arsenal on the counter attack.

“Arsenal’s back four is not the strongest, [Shkodran]Mustafi especially,” he said. “So I would say ‘let’s go for them, let’s go for the back four because that’s their weakest part of the team.

“If you think sitting back is going to win that game, it’s not.

“It might win one out of ten, you might draw a couple.

“But I’m not sure Southampton can gamble on that any more.

“They might get beat 3-0 anyway so at least go down with all guns blazing.

“That’s not being gung-ho, that’s looking at Arsenal and thinking ‘what’s their weakness?’ It’s their back four so press their back four.

“Don’t think you’re going to catch them on the break and get the odd chance. No. Arsenal are good going forward.

“They’ve got players like [Alexandre] Lacazette who can hurt you, so don’t give them a chance. Get up in their half and give it a go.

“I don’t see any other way of beating Arsenal at the moment because they’re not the best side in the world.

“You couldn’t do that against Liverpool because their back four is pretty strong - or Man City. But Arsenal aren’t that strong at the back.”

Daily Echo:

Shkodran Mustafi

With summer signings Socratis Papastathopoulos and Stephan Lichtsteiner injured and out of favour respectively, Laurent Koscielny, Mustafi, Nacho Monreal and Sead Kolosinac are likely to make up Arsenal’s defence on Sunday.

“Unless they get the back four sorted Arsenal won’t be top six,” continued Williams

“I think the supporters can see that but Southampton supporters are getting edgy because they can see ‘here we go again’.”

Saints have a must-win game at home to Fulham next Wednesday, before taking on Manchester United at Old Trafford.

“Southampton’s home form isn’t very good so they need to pick themselves up very, very quickly,” continued Williams.

“All of a sudden these games are becoming massive. It’s so tight, it’s a 50-50 call between Cardiff and Southampton and you don’t want that. You want a bit of breathing space.”

Williams believes Saints should adopt a similar approach at Old Trafford.

“Man United are on an absolute up but you can’t tell me their back four is that great.

They’re pretty lethal going forward at the moment, with [Anthony] Martial, [Paul] Pogba and [Marcus] Rashford coming on.

“If you don’t watch it you’re going to get beat there anyway so why not have a go at their back four, which looks pretty average to me.

“United have got similar problems to Arsenal at the moment.

“They’re good going forward but pretty weak at the back.

“Southampton don’t look likely to hold on to a 0-0 so I’d be tempted to say ‘let’s go for it in the 12 games we have left’.

“Go out all guns blazing, at least fighting for survival rather than go out on a whimper. I’m sure the manager wants that.

“You’d love to put Mick Channon in there to sort a few out, but if Channon came through the youth system now he’d be sold. It’s ridiculous.

“If you keep selling the family silver you end up struggling at the foot of the division. And with the January window gone, you are what you are.

“They’re going to have to get their scrapping boots on and pick themselves up very, very quickly.

“It’s your home form that keeps you up so they need to improve that and just hope they’re better than Cardiff at least.

“They may well be but I’m not sure they’re creating enough chances, other than [Nathan] Redmond, who looks lively.”

Daily Echo:

Steve Williams in his Saints heyday

Williams made his Saints debut as a 17-year-old back in 1976 and spent eight years in Lawrie McMenemy’s team before moving to Highbury.

The likes of Yan Valery and Callum Slattery are a little older but have impressed, while 18 year-old Michael Obafemi may be available at Arsenal after recovering from his hamstring injury.

Williams, however, is concerned by the number of youngsters being blooded.

“They need to be brought through at the right time with a run of ten games but you don’t want to put too many kids in when you’re near the bottom scrapping,” he cautioned.

“You don’t know what you’re going to get.

"Throwing kids in could add to your problems unless they’re very special.

“If you’re struggling at the bottom of the division you don’t know what’s hit you as a young player.

“Very rarely can you put two or three in in a dogfight against senior pros.

“It’s tricky. I wouldn’t want to be in [Hasenhuttl’s] shoes doing that but if you haven’t got anyone else…

“Some young players could freeze in front of 60,000 at the Emirates on what is a massive pitch.

“If you get beat 3-0 you’re like a rabbit in a spotlight. That can take a bit to get over.”