Southampton 0-2 Arsenal, Can you dig it?
Yes, they can… Grab your shovels ladies and gentlemen, Arsenal have finally secured their first win since Project Restart. It was a great night for Arsenal, and the Amazon as the Gunners grabbed their first win in the league since March. Bellerin’s promise to plant 3,000 trees for every game Arsenal win, can now be fulfilled, thanks to goals from Arsenal’s young guns.
Despite no longer being in the Europa League there was a sense of familiarity as Arsenal played yet another Thursday night game. Recorded as the hottest day of the calendar year, the Gunners were made to sweat for the win in sweltering heat.
Anything other than a win yesterday would have been disastrous following back to back away defeats against Man City and Brighton.
The most notable absentee from the Arsenal squad was Guendouzi, it was reported Arteta wanted to send a message by dropping the Frenchman, consequence of his shenanigans against Brighton.
After the game however, the Arsenal manager said “I don’t like to make any decisions to send messages. The messages that I send to the team or individually are very open and I’m clear with how I feel”.
It was all Arsenal in the early stage, Eddie Nketiah had an early tap-in correctly overturned for offside. An early goal would have settled any Arsenal nerves.
The 10th minute saw Aubameyang miraculously denied his 50th goal in the Premier League as Saint’s goalkeeper Alex McCarthy parried his ferocious strike from close range onto the bar. Aubameyang is now goalless in 4 games, for the first time since 2014 when he donned the famous yellow of Dortmund.
Tensions were eased for the Gunners when they broke the deadlock in the 20th minute thanks to a goalkeeping howler. Nketiah displayed his pressing prowess as he hunted down McCarthy, tapping the ball into an empty net.
Arteta appeared delighted as his decision to start Eddie ahead of Lacazette was justified, that was Eddie’s 2nd goal of the league campaign.
The scorching heat seemed to affect the Saints as they struggled to play their high pressing game, half time looked to be lingering in their minds.
Arteta would have stressed the significance of maintaining the one goal lead at the break, with this being the first time since January, Arsenal went into the interval ahead.
Southampton performed far better in the second half, substitute Shang Long had an immediate impact. Within 15minutes of the interval, Southampton had 70% possession of the ball.
The pressure was mounting on Arsenal as Southampton came with an onslaught of attacks, Nathan Redmond had a dangerous strike brush past the post in the 74th minute.
Martinez assured Arsenal fans in the 77th minute that they were in safe hands despite Leno’s gut-wrenching injury against Brighton. Shane Long was picked out magnificently by Stephens’ glorious over the top through ball.
Long caressed the ball onto his chest and unleashed a vicious left footed half-volley, Martinez showed great agility as he parried the ball away then prevented any opportunity for a rebound.
Any hopes of a Saint’s comeback were diminished when Stephens was given his marching orders for the second time in his career against Arsenal. The defender was sent off by referee Graham Scott for illegally denying Aubameyang a goal scoring opportunity.
Lacazette stepped up from the resulting free-kick and had his first attempt blocked by the wall, the Frenchman’s second attempt was driven fiercely at the keeper.
McCarthy’s nightmare of a night continued as he parried the ball into the path of a grateful Joe Willock, tapping the ball into the back of the net, ensuring victory in the 86th minute. That was Joe’s first Premier League goal in an Arsenal shirt.
The performance was far from the traditional Arsenal artistry of yesteryear, but the win was paramount in us having any chance of qualifying for Europe. Arteta, saucing in Zara clothing was full of praise for the boys following the game.
“I asked the players to be a team, to defend each other and to enjoy competing together. We are so fortunate to be where we are and, as a team today, I liked what we saw.”
Holding was remarkable all evening, taking home the Man of the match award. His performances have been concerning recently, but his defensive display against Southampton brought me back flashbacks of his iconic FA Cup final heroics against Chelsea.
Granit Xhaka was reinstated back into the starting 11. The Swiss international continues to divide opinion amongst us Arsenal fans, he was dead to me once he told the fans to f**k off back in October. However, you are an idiot if you think Arsenal possess a better central midfielder.
Other than the defeat against Manchester City, Arsenal are unbeaten under Arteta when Xhaka starts. Xhaka has earnt my respect back with the way he has applied himself on and off the field.
His presence last night in the midfield was clear for all to see, the former captain brought balance to the attack and defence. Tierney was phenomenal down the left side, Arteta laughed off any injury worry by stating, “No, nothing to worry about, it’s just that the weather is different from Scotland and he needs to adapt.”
Thursday night’s win against the Saint’s was only Arsenal’s third league away win of the season, the Gunners will play their fourth consecutive away game on Sunday. Sheffield United will be the hosts as the two battle it out in the FA Cup.
Also, congratulations to Liverpool who were last night crowned champions of England for the first time in 30 years.
Liverpool have won the league the earliest in a Premier league season, while no team has won the league so late in the year…I’ll let you think about that
- Southampton: McCarthy, Valery, Stephens, Bednarek, Bertrand, Armstrong, Ward-Prowse, Højbjerg, Redmond, Ings, Obafemi
- Arsenal: Martinez, Bellerin, Mustafi, Holding, Tierney, Ceballos, Xhaka, Saka, Pepe, Nketiah, Aubameyang
Written by: Hassan El-gendy