Arsenal 2-0 Southampton : Match report and Player ratings
REPORT: A really professional Arsenal display sees us beat Southampton 2-0, and move up to to 4th, a point ahead of 5th placed Manchester United.
The game din’t get off to a great start. Southampton lined up with a diamond and pressed us high early on, creating a couple of chances for themselves. The Nathan Redmond chance was really poor defending on our part. We play a high line and get opened up far too easily with just one ball. That was on Mustafi, who was indecisive in judging the defensive line we were holding. Thankfully, we have Bernd Leno between the sticks. A truly terrific save to keep it at 0-0. Just after that, we score through Lacazette. Very good approach play sees Iwobi through, he finds Mkhitaryan who whacks it across and Lacazette pulls off an instinctive striker’s finish. Some will say that it was a fluke, but for me Laca mean’t that.
Post that goal, Targett had a shot which was met by a fine save from Leno, helping us keep the scoreline at 1-0. Then we soon score a second. Some intense pressing up front from Lacazette sees us win the ball back. Iwobi, who was all over Southampton again finds Mkhitaryan. This time, he finishes calmly. Need to see that kind of decisiveness from both Mkhi and Iwobi more often.
Throughout the game, I thought our wide players were excellent. All our chances stem from wide areas. That’s why many fans like myself have been crying out for a top quality winger – someone that can be even more decisive in the final third. No doubt our attack is going to go a few levels higher once that happens.
Anyways, coming back to the game. Post the second goal, it was all us. Granit Xhaka was pulling the strings in midfield. Lacazette missed a sitter and should have had a brace, but we can put it down as a one off incident. Lucas Torreira looked back to his best physically and was fighting for every second ball. This pivot is crucial to our cause. I love Matteo Guendouzi and think he is quality, but right now, this pivot is giving us that perfect balance between defence and attack.
The second half was a little less intense from us, as compared to the first. We dropped back and looked to contain and did pretty well in this regard, for the most part at least. I thought Mesut Ozil played a really nice cameo and if we were more clinical in front of goal, we could have easily had a 3rd.
A good overall performance, to cap a good weekend. Tottenham and United dropped points and we gained 3. We’re 4th now and need to do everything we can to stay there and try putting pressure on Spurs for that third spot. Happy with the result today and we can be relaxed, till the Bournemouth game in midweek of course!
Leno – 9/10 (MOTM) : The defence lets him down so many times, so he took things into his own hands. 3 outstanding saves, 2 of which were crucial to keep us in the game and the third ensured that Southampton din’t get a sniff back when we were 2-0 up.
Lichtsteiner – 7.5/10: Much better from him. He was good in midweek and continued that form today. Got injured too. Let’s hope it isn’t too serious.
Mustafi- 7/10: Decent game overall. Poor judgement in Redmond’s early chances. Moved to right back and covered pretty well despite not being familiar in that position.
Sokratis – 8/10: How we have missed Papa! Marshalled the defence and bullied Southampton’s forwards. Glad he’s back.
Kolasinac – 7.5/10: Another really good game from Seo going forward. Leaves us exposed at the back at times, but is of great use to our cause all in all.
Xhaka – 8.5/10: Classy display. Did everything right, apart from that pass to Ward-Prowse. Helped us control the midfield and made some superb passes.
Torreira- 8/10: Great for us to see him back to good physical levels. Did very well to win most of the second balls and went about his job quietly.
Ramsey- 6.5/10: Not his greatest game, just coming back from injury, so it is understandable. Despite that, he worked hard and his movements were top notch as always.
Iwobi- 8/10: Another clinic from Iwobi. Most of our attacks flow through him. We don’t have any other player in our squad that can carry the ball as well as him. He’s improving and establishing himself as an important member of the side.
Mkhitaryan-8/10: His best performance of the season. Almost whatever he was trying came off. Good finish to help us get that crucial second.
Lacazette-7.5/10: Another goal for Laca today and his hold up play was fantastic. Should have scored a brace and helped us to a 3rd, but it is okay. He’s my player of the season so far.
Subs: Auba gets a 7, he was lively. Ozil gets a 7.5, he did well to create openings in the Southampton defence. Koscielny gets a 7, didn’t really have much to do and we din’t concede.