Arsenal: Cech, Bellerin, Chambers, Mustafi, Kolasinac, Elneny, Xhaka, Iwobi, Nelson, Welbeck, Aubameyang.
Subs: Macey, Holding, Monreal, Wilshere, Ozil, Lacazette, Nketiah
Two goals from Danny Welbeck and one from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang gave Arsenal a 3-2 win over Southampton at the Emirates this afternoon, in a game which saw both sides finish with ten men.
Arsene Wenger rotated his squad after Thursday’s 4-1 win over CSKA Moscow, with 7 changes in all – including a first Premier League start for highly-rated youngster Reiss Nelson.
Despite lots of early possession for Arsene Wenger’s men, it was the visitors who had the first sight of goal, Bellerin clearing from just in front of the line after a Chambers miskick had allowed Long to set up Romeu. The Irishman was almost through again, as the defence was undone by a simple hoof from the back but a sly tug on the shirt from Chambers halted his momentum sufficiently to lessen the danger.
These were warning signs so it shouldn’t have been a surprise when Long put the Saints ahead. Mustafi was caught on his heels as the cross came to the near post, and the man who had scored just once in his previous 47 games poked home to make it 0-1. It was terrible from the German, to say the least.
Arsenal got the 28th minute without even an attempt on goal but with their first of the match they were level. The ball was worked it nicely through the middle, came into Welbeck, he flicked it towards Aubameyang who poked it home for 1-1.
Xhaka curled a free kick wide after Welbeck had been fouled just outside the box, and in the 27th minute we were ahead. Iwobi fed Welbeck down the inside left channel, he drove infield, got to the edge of the box and his shot deflected off Yoshida and into the net to make it 2-1.
It was a good response from the Gunners and they took the one goal lead into the break, during which there were no changes from either manager.
Arsenal had the first two chances of the second period, Aubameyang forcing McCarthy into a save after nice play from Iwobi, and the Saints keeper kept his side in the game moments later with an excellent stop from a low Xhaka effort that was going inside the post.
Iwobi was next to test McCarthy, the keeper palming a goalbound effort around the post, while at the other end Petr Cech was equal to a Hojberg shot from distance which forced him to get down quickly.
Elneny cleared off the line after Hoedt’s header from a corner almost brought Southampton an equaliser, Cech had to save from Long whose header was going in at the near post, and the Irish international had the ball in the net but was rightly given offside as he deflected a low shot past the Arsenal keeper.
Arsene Wenger brought on Jack Wilshere for Nelson in the 64th minute, Cech saved again from Hoedt after Welbeck last the ball in a dangerous area, and Alexandre Lacazette replaced Aubameyang in the 72nd minute.
The Saints were very much in the game, and got back level in the 74th minute through substitute Charlie Austin who had only been on the pitch a few seconds. It was more terrible defending, Wilshere got left for dust, Chambers was roasted, Mustafi was nowhere near Austin who poked home from close range, 2-2.
Arsenal should have gone ahead again in the 77th minute but instead Welbeck missed a golden chance. Great work from Iwobi saw him cross to the back post, Wilshere hooked it back across and somehow the striker put it over the bar from 4 yards out.
The England man made up for it just five minutes later, putting Arsenal ahead. Again, it came from great work by Iwobi, he crossed it to the back post, Welbeck was there at the back post to head home. 3-2.
The visitors pressed for a goal to help them with their relegation dogfight, and they weren’t helped by a red card for Jack Stephens in a clash with Wilshere who was booked, and amazingly Elneny was also sent off for a push in the aftermath and he’ll miss three games for violent conduct.
It was a tempestuous end to the game, but the victory makes it six wins from six for the Gunners and we got into Thursday’s Europa League game with another win under our belts.