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Arsenal will be pleased they were able to secure a very comfortable win against the Saints to somewhat maintain the momentum they acquired against Liverpool before the international break. As well as maintaining their good start to the season, it was also imperative that the Gunner’s recorded a comfortable win ahead of a tough schedule where they meet Montpellier in midweek for the Champions League followed by League Champions Manchester City at the weekend. A week later they face Chelsea at the Emirates.
For this match Arsene Wenger opted to rest both Abou Diaby and Olivier Giroud, understandably for the upcoming game in midweek against Montpellier. While on face, resting these two players would seem to diminish the side somewhat, their replacements Francis Coquelin and Gervinho looked very much up to the task and performed very well. Special mention must go to Gervinho who looked outstanding playing surprisingly through the middle, scoring a well-deserved brace and cutting up the Southampton defence with his pace and trickery. His direct style and tendency to take on players certainly suits it.
On the game itself, it is safe to say critics can no longer call the Gunners ‘goal-shy’ after putting six passed the Saints. Today Arsenal played with precision, pace and great movement, all combined with their recent trend of solidity in defence. Many critics will say it was only against a newly promoted Southampton team, but in saying that this is still a team that largely outplayed Manchester United and pushed Champions Manchester City all the way.
Again, like previous weeks the influence of new signings Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla were significant. As Wenger says in the post-match press conference, Cazorla typifies the Spanish midfielder and today he was at the center of many of Arsenal’s attacking plays using his excellent technical ability and vision. Podolski on the other hand used his work-rate and somewhat bullish style to stamp his authority on the match. I think we can all agree that both players have added a significant amount of quality to this team.
It is also important to note that Arsenal’s youngsters are also coming along as well. Jenkinson, Gibbs and Coquelin looked comfortable today and look to be progressing their careers nicely. Today’s stand-out for me though was Gibbs who marauded down the left-flank with plenty of purpose and seems to be improving with every game. While he didn’t get on the score-sheet however, he was able to inflict torment on the Southampton defenders after effectively forcing two own-goals.
On a slightly negative note, it was somewhat frustrating to see the Gunners lose their clean-sheet streak after a very poor error by Arsenal number one Wojciech Szczesny. The Polish keeper fluffed what could be considered a routine cross in his return match and will no doubt be feeling Vito Mannone breathing down his neck. While a bit of a clanger I would still like to see Szczesny play on Tuesday to find his feet again after a somewhat lengthy lay-off.
In any case, it was great to see the Gunners record a comfortable victory at home and also to see that Arsene has a few surprising tactical options up his sleeve. We look forward now to the upcoming match against Montpellier who have looked average in their first few games in Ligue 1. Heres hoping Arsenal can continue their current trend with another victory!
on the performance…
Especially in the first 45 minutes we had a high level. We had a good combination of pace, speed in our passing, quick combinations, and the movement was excellent. We were a bit lucky as well because they conceded two own goals, but overall I think it was a level of continuity with what we have shown at Liverpool and today. The game was very interesting to watch. In the second half we lost a bit of urgency, that is human, but we controlled the game and remained serious.
on a big month ahead…
We have a big week coming up because we go on Tuesday now to Montpellier. On Sunday we play at Man City and we have two interesting weeks coming up because we play Chelsea as well. We will know more about our team then but there is a positive energy in this team, a desire to play well together, and real team play. It is very exciting.
on Gervinho playing through the middle…
You know we transform all wingers into central strikers and all the strikers into wingers! I decided that during our tour of Asia when I tried to play Gervinho there against Man City in that position. I liked what he did and it was in the back of my mind. It is interesting because he is such a great mover and he is so quick so when he is central, once he gets ahead of the central defender it is difficult to catch him back.
on Santi Cazorla…
Cazorla is a player who is just a pleasure to watch. You want him to have the ball. He typifies what Spain’s midfielders are today – he is technically perfect, he has great vision and a great team attitude. We did fight with Malaga at the time [to get him last summer] and they were in Spain, they were quick to do the deal. But we remained on the ball, we were quite advanced with him last season.
on Lukas Podolski…
First of all Lukas has 101 caps for Germany. In our job, once you get the ball every time at the right moment, when you want it, with the right quality of the pass, it is easier to adapt. So when a team plays as well as it did today, the adaptation is easy. When you have to fight, and then you are exposed to the real English game, it is much more difficult. He is physically strong and he is a fantastic finisher. I had a little hesitation today to play him at centre forward because I had played him only once there. He gives us a balance on the left and I didn’t want to destroy that because he did well at Liverpool.
on Francis Coquelin…
I didn’t go on the [transfer] market because of him, because of Frimpong, because of Wilshere coming back – he is not far away now. Frimpong is joining in now on Monday in full training. Diaby as well, he plays in this position. We have no real defensive midfielder because we all go forward when we have the ball.
on leaving Giroud on the bench…
I felt that he is under much pressure at the moment and sometimes to get a little breather is good. What I will do on Tuesday I honestly don’t know. I just felt that the time has come for him to not be under too much pressure.
Jenkinson Mertesacker Vermaelen (c) Gibbs
Chamberlain Cazorla Podolski
Wojciech Szczesny | 4.5: Had a relatively quiet night, but a horrible mistake put a damper on what should have been a comfortable clean-sheet. Failed to take in a routine cross that fell to a Southampton attacker who thumped the ball home.
Carl Jenkinson | 6.5: Looked relatively comfortable, without really being outstanding. Distributed the ball well, kept possession when needed and looked at ease defensively.
Per Mertesacker | 7.0: The big German won his duel with Rick Lambert today, winning a majority of the aerial duels. As usual was placed himself well in a positional sense and was composed on the ball. Looks to be giving Koscielny plenty of competition.
Thomas Vermalen | 7.5: Looked very solid at the back making a number of crucial tackles and interceptions. Even bombed forward from the back into a goal-scoring position late in the match. His shot was eventually parried, but found its way back to Walcott who slotted it home.
Kieran Gibbs | 7.5: An excellent game by the young Englishman, who bombed down the left-flank at every chance. His attacking nature paid dividends after forcing two own-goals from the Southampton defence.
Mikel Arteta | 7.0: Again played his role behind the scenes. Sat back when need and distributed effectively and efficiently when we win the ball back. Great assist for Gervinho’s first goal.
Francis Coquelin | 6.5: A solid performance from the young midfielder who played both in defensive and attacking areas. Looked relatively comfortable in both situations. (67′)
Santi Cazorla | 8.0: Another excellent performance from the little Spaniard. Great technical ability, great passing and vision and excellent movement.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain | 6.5: Was an decent performance from the former Southampton man. Showed glimpses of brilliance, but also faded in the second half before being eventually replaced by Walcott.
Lukas Podolski | 8.0: Shows a great desire to win the ball using his pace and strength. This was shown no more so when he battled to keep possession, then bursting forward and releasing Gibbs for the first goal. His own goal was sublime, giving Davis no chance. (75′)
Gervinho | 8.5: Somewhat surprising he played through the middle, but in saying this has the attributes needed to play there. Showed great movement for his first goal, subsequently slamming the ball home at the near post. Was alert for his second after Ramsey hit the post. (74′)
- Notable substitutions
Ramsey | 7.0: Came on for Coquelin and made an instant effect. Skipped past his defender and attempted to slot the ball inside the far post with the outside of his foot. Unluckily it came off the post, but Gervinho was on hand to finish it off. (67′)
Walcott | 6.5: Used his pace to good effect, but failed to deliver the right final ball, particularly when he opted not to pass to Giroud and under-hit his ball to Cazorla. Nevertheless scored a well-taken goal of his own after a parried Vermaelen shot fell to him inside the box. (74′)