Arsenal 2 – 2 Southampton
Following a four-nil win at home over Coventry, The Gunners turned their attention once again to the Premier League. If they could travel to Southampton and grab all three points, Arsenal would move four points clear of Manchester City at the top. High stakes indeed.[quote_right]”…I’d go as far as saying it was the wost forty-five minutes of Arsenal’s season…”[/quote_right]
Without a doubt, the first half was one to forget for Arsenal. In fact, I’d go as far as saying it was the wost forty-five minutes of Arsenal’s season.
Southampton were closing down hard and fast, and playing some fluid Football, whereas Arsenal were looking tired, unmotivated, and easy to play against.
Arteta and Flamini were being dominated. Both of them were uncomfortable in possession, and were not defending well enough in the face of Lallana and co.
It was of no surprise then, when Southampton took the lead in the twenty-first minute. Luke Shaw swung in a ball from the left, where Fonte rose above Monreal at the back post, drilling a header into the bottom corner. He had a hand on Monreal, but it wasn’t a clear-cut foul.
The rest of the half was no better from Arsenal. Southampton were by far the better side, moving freely down the flanks as Cazorla and Gnabry offered little protection. Fortunately though, Arsenal held on until the break.
In the second half, Arsenal looked slightly sharper.
It took only until the forty-eighth minute for The Gunners to get back in it. Monreal’s over-hit cross found Sagna, who smashed in a low cross to Giroud, who back-heeled the ball past Boruc.
Less than five minutes later, Mesut Ozil found space on the right, darted inside, and played a good ball t Cazorla on the edge of the box. The Spaniard hit it well, curling it away from Boruc and into the bottom corner.
Unfortunately though, Arsenal’s lead was short-lived.[quote_left]”After an eventless few minutes, Mathieu Flamini decided to throw Arsenal’s entire season into doubt.”[/quote_left]
The Saints came back almost immediately, as Rodriguez found Lallana in the box, who had out-run Mikel Arteta to the ball. The Englishman slid home an easy finish, pulling Southampton level.
The rest of the game was pretty even. Mesut Ozil had the moment of the match as he went into overdrive, skipping past Southampton’s midfielders and defenders, only to have his shot deflected onto the bar. It was inspiring, but apparently, not inspiring enough.
After an eventless few minutes, Mathieu Flamini decided to throw Arsenal’s entire season into doubt.
On the stroke of the eightieth minute, Flamini lunged in with both feet off the ground, not far from the centre circle. The tackle was unnecessary, and the technique was dangerous. He was rightly sent off.
Southampton tried to take their chances with Arsenal weakened, but in reality, the game looked destined for a draw as soon as Lee Mason drew for his red card.
There were some half-chances which Szczesney had to be alert to, and he also made some smart saves late on to keep Arsenal in the game. In the end though, the final whistle blew on two dropped points for Arsenal.
[title]Arsenal Player Ratings[/title]
Made some excellent saves throughout the game to keep Southampton out. Read long balls well, was quick off his line, and had to make a couple of stops before the final whistle blew to keep Arsenal level.
Had a brilliant first half, showing plenty of energy, and grabbing an assist for Giroud. His second half was wasn’t bad, but he certainly wasn’t as effective. Out of position once or twice.
Made some intelligent interceptions,especially in the first half. Wasn’t directly contested by anybody, but had a solid game overall regardless.
Much like Mertesacker, Koscileny didn’t have any direct contests to win, but he was comfortable overall. Although, he made a fantastic last-ditch block to keep Southampton out in the first half.
Offensively Nacho was okay, and helped in the build-up to Giroud’s goal. But defensively, he was poor. He was beaten in the air for The Saint’s first, and moments later a terrible clearance from him almost led to Southampton’s second. Didn’t have any help from Cazorla, but he was sill suspect defensively all game.
Awful first half. Mikel was slow, sloppy and uncomfortable. He couldn’t keep up with Lallana to stop him equalising, and some poor passing didn’t help him gain any confidence. Yet, he grew into the game in the second period, showing good feet and some decent overall play. Too little, too late though.
Did absolutely nothing of value all game. His passing was weak, both in terms of strength and accuracy, and he was positionally all over the place. His two-footed disgusting tackle late on sealed Arsenal’s fate, and was one of the most stupid things I’ve ever seen an Arsenal player do.
Took his goal very well, curling the ball into the bottom corner. Showed some good feet at times, but apart from that, he did nothing all game to help a struggling Monreal, and was constantly (and I mean constantly) out of position. In my eyes, Podolski offers more.
Serge’s lack of experience was inevitably going to rear its head soon, and today was the day. He didn’t make any glaring mistakes, but when Arsenal needed a pace-driven outlet, he just wasn’t available. Passing was below par too, but he tried to help out defensively.
Ozil: [8/10] – MOTM
The entire midfield was uninspiring today, bar Mesut. He made all the right passes, used his surprisingly decent pace, and looked to be ut most positive player by far. His second half run was beautiful to watch. He even made a brilliant tackle yards from our box, seconds before the first half ended, as Southampton were yet again rolling through our midfield.
Olivier was starved of good delivery today, but he finished his chances very well with a back-heel, looked lively, and made some good runs. He also did a stellar defensive job for corners.
The Ox: [6.5/10]
Made no real impact. His performance was essentially a continuation of Gnabry’s, but he is still returning to fitness.
Got an astonishing eight minutes under his belt thanks to the six minutes of extra-time. Poor bloke must be bewildered.
[title]Foiled by Flamini[/title]
I’m a big Flamini fan. I thought he was (and still is) a great signing. But he pretty much foiled and plans of a winner tonight, with a challenge so stupid that I’m struggling to find the words to describe it. It may sound harsh, but I’d like to see Wenger hit him with a two-week wage cut – at least.
Apart from that, Arsenal were poor – especially in the first half. Arteta, Flamini, Cazorla and Gnabry were all far too casual, and Southampton were simply purring.
Arsenal are now in danger of possibly slipping to third place when City and Chelsea play Spurs and West Ham respectively tomorrow night. Is a point away to Southampton that bad? It could be. Cheers, Mathieu.
Next up, Crystal Palace at home.