Going into the game on the back of the wonderful 7-3 versus Newcastle, the Gooner faithful were optimistic about the team’s ability to score goals but a little uneasy of our propensity to concede goals. Would The Arsenal be able to shore up the rearguard while maintaining our free-scoring form?
The line-up was unchanged with the Pod, Theo, Ox combination up front again.
Subs Martinez Mertesacker Rosicky Ramsey Coquelin Giroud Gervinho
Arsenal began the first half passing the ball well. Unfortunately it was to be the boys in purple’s best period of the game. After 5 minutes Santi had a fine effort deflected wide. Boruc in the Southampton goal started nervously treating the ball as a slippery bar of soap but Arsenal couldn’t capitalise. The game was entertaining on the eye, helter skelter but with few chances on goal.
Thomas Vermaelen made a fine saving challenge as Southampton gradually got into the game as their work rate continually outmatched the away side’s. When will Arsenal learn that they have to match the opposition work rate for any difference in class to show itself?
Arsenal had a few fine openings largely created by Jack’s industry in the middle of the park. A fine interception by the Ox forced a corner, but Arsenal’s dead ball situations were poor the whole evening. The midfield three were made to look disjointed as Southampton harried and closed down space.
A series of poor decisions from Podolski, Sagna and then Gibbs eventually resulted in a goal for the home side. Another poor piece of play from Sagna left Kos needing to make a great challenge to stop the Saints going two up.
Against the run of play, a Walcott free kick was put through his own goal by Do Prado with Koscielny lurking and Arsenal suddenly had a lifeline back into the game. An underserved goal and the away side immediately looked threatening.
A superb cross from the Ox found Podolski dithering on the edge of the area when he needed to be busting a gut to get into the six yard box. The half time whistle came at the wrong time with the Gunners pressing, Walcott correctly flagged for offside.
The second half started with a poor header from Gibbs and an early scare for Arsenal. Jack was booed for getting kicked in the face and the game continued with Southampton continually getting to the second ball first. On 56’ Szczesny passed within inches of the Southampton forward. This was followed by a good opening for Theo but he chose to shoot from outside the area when better options were available at the far post.
Arsenal needed to hold the ball up and Giroud was brought on for the disappointing Podolski. Unfortunately I’m not sure if Giroud won the ball in the air once for the rest of the game. Southampton continued to show more energy, passion and threat in all areas of the pitch.
The few opportunities Arsenal did have to break were halted by professional fouls both on Cazorla and later on Sagna. Arteta did something similar when megged by Ramirez, who impressed throughout. The same player had a goal disallowed after a sly push on Koscielny allowed him the space to turn and fire past Szczesny.
On 68’ a fine driving run from Gibbs ended in another dreadful cross from Sagna. Mr Consistency was consistently poor with his passing and crossing all game. The Arsenal away boys sang ‘Cmon Arsenal’ which we all know is code for ‘buck your feckin ideas up, you’re playing shite’. Another chance fell to Theo and he, again, failed to notice the better options available to him.
Ramsey and Gervinho came on for the Ox and Santi; the latter having struggled to find enough space to really influence the game today. Surely Rosicky would have been the better option for Santi in Arsenal’s attempts to find that little bit extra to break down the excellent Southampton defence?
Arteta produced a fine drive on 80’ and then Gervinho cut inside beautifully a few minutes later only to shoot well wide of the near post. Szczesny made a good block before Arsenal’s best chance to get the winner went begging when Gibbs failed to find a purple shirt when in acres of space inside the Southampton penalty area.
Theo’s final contribution was an appalling free kick which failed to get anywhere near the Saints’ box. Giroud must have wondered why he had been brought on.
All in all, a pretty dismal performance from the Gunners. Southampton had played on Boxing Day, so I was expecting Arsenal to seem the fresher of the two teams at some point in the last twenty but, disappointingly this never happened. Southampton fought and harried, with no little skill too, and were unlucky not to win the three points, it has to be said.
Szczesny– Made a few good blocking saves in a game of few clear cut chances. His distribution was up to his usual standard……7
Koscielny – Fought hard in a rearguard action the whole team didn’t seem to expect……7
Vermaelen – Played reasonably well without ever showing signs that he’s a great captain……7
Sagna – Poor for most of the game. If he does want to leave, you’d think he would be trying to impress potential suitors ….5
Gibbs – Looked threatening at times but failed to find a dangerous final pass. …..6
Wilshere – The best of a poor bunch. …..7
Arteta – Reliable in his efforts as always but must be given support by the rest of the team when continually put under pressure …….7
Cazorla – Santi’s worst game in an Arsenal shirt. When he did find a few inches of space his passing was off. We cannot always rely on the Spanish maestro for inspiration. Rosicky should have been brought on in his place …..6
Podolski – Looked disinterested again. Dropping deep and passing the ball back to the centre backs doesn’t cut it, Lukas ……5
Walcott – Theo seemed wary of upsetting the locals with a display we are all too familiar with before this season began …..6
The Ox – Looked good in flashes but continues to lack an end product …..6
Giroud – Didn’t affect the game as we hoped he would. His touch seemed off ….6
Ramsey – Was Ramsey brought on to play in the Santi role. He huffed and puffed but produced little …..6
Gervinho – Aside from the one nice cut in and shot, he seemed clueless as to how to beat a full back or even stay upright! …..5