Report: Southampton 0-2 Arsenal (inc. goals)

59

Result: Southampton 0-2 Arsenal
Competition: Premier League
Date: 25 June 2020
Venue: St Mary’s

Starting lineup: Martinez, Bellerin, Tierney, Holding, Mustafi, Xhaka, Ceballos, Saka, Pepe, Aubameyang, Nketiah

Subs: Macey, Sokratis, Kolasinac, Maitland-Niles, Willock, M.Smith, Nelson, Ozil, Lacazette


Academy graduates Eddie Nketiah and Joe Willock got the goals as Arsenal beat Southampton 2-0 to record a first win following football’s restart after the Covid-19 lockdown. 

Under pressure following two defeats in a row, the Gunners delivered a professional performance at St Mary’s that restores hope of securing qualification to Europe.  

Nketiah took advantage of a goalkeeping howler to break the deadlock midway through the first half and we took advantage of Jack Stephens’ red card to kill the game in the closing stages; substitute Willock tapping home on the rebound.

Pre-game

Having both been ruled out for a couple of weeks as recently as Friday, the return of Granit Xhaka and Sokratis to the squad was a welcome surprise given our depleted numbers. The Swiss slipped straight back into the centre of midfield, while the Greek took a place on the bench. In the absence of Bernd Leno, Emi Martinez started his first Premier League game of the season, Kieran Tierney took over from Sead Kolasinac at left-back and Eddie Nketiah came in for Alex Lacazette. Academy graduate Matt Smith was amongst the nine subs, which also included Mesut Ozil and Matt Macey.

First half

In baking hot conditions with half the pitch bathed in sunshine and the other in shade, it was the home side who made the quicker start. Having conceded in the 95th minute on the south coast on Saturday, we might have gone behind inside a minute here. Thankfully, Danny Ings couldn’t connect properly with a cross that had us scrambling in our own box. 

It became apparent pretty early on that we were playing a fluid formation at the back with Tierney tucking in alongside Holding and Mustafi and Saka dropping to left-back to create a five-man defence out of the ball. 

In possession, Saka hugged the left touchline looking to play give and gos and work his way behind the Southampton defence. It nearly paid dividends on 8 minutes when he darted behind the defence to collect a Saka pass and laid it off for Nketiah to tap home. Unfortunately, he’d time his run wrong and was a yard or so offside. 

Our best chances certainly came down the left side. Aubameyang really should have put us in front when he raced onto a long ball from Tierney. One-on-one with keeper McCarthy, he seemed destined to score but cannoned his effort on the angle off the bar. 

Aside from a clumsy challenge by Mustafi on Ings (the German went into the book), a string of poor passes by Bellerin and an injury scare to Saka who went down following a crunching challenge by Højbjerg, there wasn’t too much to get the pulses of Arsenal fans racing. 

That changed on 21 minutes courtesy of Nketiah. The England under-21 international, whose movement had been sharp from the off, pounced on a terrible pass by keeper McCarthy and had the simple task of rolling the ball into an empty net as his reward. They say you make your own luck; he certainly did that. (1-0)

The instructions from the boss at the drinks break must have been to retain possession and make Southampton chase the ball in the heat. When spaces appeared we then tried to break on the counter. 

Just before the break, we had an amazing chance to double the lead. Pepe freed Nketiah in the box but he choked and awkwardly prodded the ball out of play when a little pass to Aubameyang would have resulted in a free shot on goal. Would we live to regret it? That was the question going into half time. 

Second half

An early Ward-Prowse shot from the edge of the box signalled Southampton’s intent to push for an equaliser but we did pretty well keeping them at arm’s length. 

Had Aubameyang been in a more selfish mood we might even have doubled our lead. A brilliant kick by Martinez found the striker in space and within a touch he was in the Saints box. Rather than try and finish himself, he looked to tee up Nketiah only for a last-ditch challenge by Bednarek to force the ball for a corner. Martinez put his head in his hands; he knew we’d blown a great chance. 

Another break, which saw us work the ball across the pitch at speed, ended with a Bellerin drive being blocked at close quarters. It was our last effort for quite some time. Hassenhutl’s men penned us in and we struggled for fluidity. Changes in personnel and another drinks break added to the stop-start nature of the match. Willock replaced Pepe, who struggled to make an impact, and Kolasinac came on for Tierney who was struggling with cramp. Alex Lacazette and Ainsley Maitland-Niles joined them soon after. Off went goalscorer Nketiah and Dani Ceballos. 

In between, there was a scare when Redmond hit a rasping right foot effort that flashed into the side netting. Ings also stung Martinez’s palms on 78 minutes and the Argentine did brilliantly to pounce on the loose ball. 

Hanging on for a 1-0 win didn’t seem like a particularly sensible move given our track record this season, so a red card for Southampton was certainly timely. 

With six minutes remaining, Aubameyang chased down a pass aimed at Jack Stephens and was taken out by the defender on the edge of the Saints box. Referee Graham Scott had no qualms reaching for his pocket. Things got even better from the resulting free-kick. Lacazette tried his luck, found the wall, hammered the rebound at McCarthy who fumbled into Wilock’s path and the 20-year-old tucked home. (2-0)

That was job done. A win made at Hale End and one that was much needed after our recent troubles. While we’re still stuck in mid-table, ninth at the time of writing, six points separate us from the five teams above.

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goongot

An away win finally.good decision to give soares a contract. Bellerin without speed is a championship player.

Mentally Drained Gooner

He lost possession so many times. And with Ceballos in his side of play Pepe was deprived of any kind of service.

Artetas Assistant

Or can become a Xhaka-like DM. He’s got clean technique, maybe lean away from the excess mobility

Mentalista

Bellerin has terribly stiff feet for a midfielder. He’s no better on the ball than Sagna or Clichy were, but those two could defend.

Dave

Sagna was far more consistent than Bellerin. Even in his prime.

I don’t think he’s lost all of his pace, but his touch and passing range isn’t back yet.

He’s had a long time out, let’s give him a chance. No harm in have Soaure for competition.

Jack

I don’t want to put a downer on a fantastic away win against a bogey team, but my word, Bellerin was so poor today. Third game in the space of just over a week yes, but everything he did was just off, from his passing to his runs. He looks like he could benefit from a proper pre season before next season starts

Henkamp

Yap… I think Pepe is getting frustrated with him as well.

Michael Bolton Wanderers

Frustrating to see a player that used to be so good for us look so bad. Not for the first time this season either

Homer

Bellerin’s third match in a week. Surely legs like concrete.
 
Without his speed Bellerin is a pretty average defender. No idea if Soarez is better, but … hell, I don’t know.
 
An average Bellerin and a Sot’on reject.
 
I remember when folks used to criticize Sanga. Ha, idiots. I’d take him back now over any of our current RBs, even at his age. Would be a huge defensive improvement.
 
 

Reality check

I don’t think anyone critcised Sagna, he was our most consistent defender in the banter era. Solid in defence and always provided an outlet going forward. Szczesny loved lumping the ball towards him.

Timorous Me

I don’t know that calling Cedric a Southampton reject is entirely fair. He played semi-regularly for them before the move, and with a promising young right back already deserving minutes for them (Valery), it didn’t make sense for him to want to stay. He probably also saw Arsenal as a good opportunity–even as a backup, he’ll surely get some action with Bellerin’s injury problems.   Of course, none of this means he’ll actually be good for us, but I’d like to see what he can provide before writing him off. I’d certainly rather have a young academy graduate as Bellerin’s… Read more »

Nilaroulettes

It’s just sad that we let Dortmund get Thomas Meunier for free. He was consistently good with PSG and awesome with Belgium.

He is perfect for the premier league in my opinion. Good in attacking and defending, not very fast but very tall and physical.

Dave

Not once did Bellerin play the simple pass into Pepe. But he’s on the back of a long lay off. Happy to give him a chance in this glorified pre season.

myrtle

Holding – Mustafi is a good partnership. Not the answer, but far more complimentary than others. I said the same when they had a run in the cup together earlier in the season.

Gearoid

Holding has a very calm demeanour, which I’m sure helps Mustafi be less rattled

Nick

Mustafi lost his man again for southamptons best chance of the game, martinez with a good save. He hasnt dropped his usual clangers but better defenders read the game and dont constantly lose their man ball watching. He always seems to be desparately scrambling back to try and block the shot.

Jean Ralphio

Ceballos really does add nothing. I’d play Ozil instead.

Mentally Drained Gooner

I would want to know how much % of his passes went to the back 4. It was so frustrating to see his performance. And with reports coming about how he wants to go back and fight for his place in real Madrid only makes me chuckle

Flash

It was not about his passing in my opinion. It was ok. However he made 3 tackles and had 4 interceptions. Ozil’s avarage numbers in this regard are 0.9 and 0.3 respectively.

Martin

I agree. He played in our undefeated run before the covid break. He’s still capable of doing the unexpected

Mouise

But he is Spanish…

loose_cannon

Ceballos was very good before the break but I think his head is gone now, he knows he’s not staying here after the end of the season. But I don’t see how he can be replaced by Ozil seeing as he’s playing in a holding 2! Guendouzi or AMN makes more sense.

Brendan from NY

Did you notice how deep Ceballos was? Do you think that’s on instruction?

Petit's Handbag

Remember his first game against Burnley and the Spurs cameo. I was so excited watching him play, he looked like the second coming of Cazorla. How has he become so shit?

Nick

nothing minus nothing plus ozil equals nothing

Tommmy

We… WON!

Captain Cliche

Fair’s fair, at the end of the day, a win’s a win. Happy days, can’t say fairer than that. Bit lucky with the sending off perhaps but that’s Arsenal, they always try to walk the ball into the net.

Arsemusic

A welcome win after a shit week.

Grumbleduke

Well done and well played as a team. Rob Holding reminding us of the fa cup final where he won every header. Encouraging especially with Saliba as a partnership.

charvakan

Better than Cannavaro!

Timorous Me

I hope Holding starts every game the rest of this season and cements his place in the team for next year. After his bad injury luck–not just the severity, but right when he had seemingly become a really solid, regular presence–I hope that’s not asking too much of the football gods.

Brendan from NY

The club believe in Rob Holding. I felt hey allowed Saliba to stay at St Ettienne because they knew we’d be without Rob much of the season but we want him next year and so the build was always for next year

Henkamp

Tierney, Xhaka, and Holding. Maybe there is yet hope for us.

Ya gooner

Admittedly we look better with xhaka in the middle but he still isn’t good enough. For me it just highlights how poor our mf is.

Flash

I hope they won’t force Willock in the no.10 role anymore. To me he is a ‘natural born’ box to box midfilder.

Raghib

Slightly off topic but Blogs I just saw Bleacher Report using the kind of cartoon faces you use for the players in the ratings posts. I wonder if that’s where you got them from, or is BR copying you?
Anyhow a very welcome win. COYG!

Nketibag
Raghib

Aah, thanks mate.

Twatsloch

How much better this feels compared to the previous two games.

Lord Bendnter

Finally the pre-lockdown Arteta Arsenal. Good, stable performance.
More of it boys ?

Fatgooner

Rubbish game but a decent result. You can’t argue with 3 points and a clean sheet. At one point it looked like we were going to self destruct again and hand them the game. But we held on and got the second.

It’s a good thing that they had Manuel Almunia in goal: he gave us a nice easy start. I thought that he retired?

Benjamin Udom

I’m with you on the “rubbish game” assertion. Being that I streamed the I felt cheated for my data, I kept waiting for moments of lovely football only to end up with none. I’ll take the points though.

JohnArsenal

Second half was a bit reminiscent of Emery’s era. Take a lead and defend with numbers. Bit concerning that there is no midfield again, can’t get passes together. Tried long balls too but we invited a lot of pressure.
 
Anyways, will take this win and some luck!

Ollie123

Holding was class today, very calm.

Mike likes a right footer left footer combo at the back though. Feels like Holding, Mustafi, chambers and Saliba will all have to compete for that spot alongside Mari

Naked Cygan

Good win, better performance, but plenty of room for improvement. Southampton still looked sharper and most of the 50-50 and second balls. Hopefully this will give the team some confidence. I also noticed Mustafi and David Luiz remind me of of George Bush and Trump. We used to complain every game about Mustafi, and then came along David Luiz, who has no clue how to defend. Good to gave Mustafi back.

BongoGooner

A shame we don’t paly Burnley again…would like to hear all the fake BOOOOOOOOs

Fan for 50 years

Always nice to beat a stripey team. Hate stripey teams.

Fan for 50 years

I also hate fake crowd noise. So much hate. Especially in headphones

btw

No mention of the shot from Shane Long that Martinez made a brilliant save from?

Facts&BS

Holding was really good.

Timorous Me

Very limited action for Maitland-Niles in midfield, but I like what I saw and hope he starts there on Sunday. On one play it seemed like he knocked over three Southampton players (and maybe one teammate!) trying to get to the ball. I don’t know if he has the poise on the ball to be super successful in the midfield (need to see more to know that), but if he can be a ball-hunting, energetic presence in there, he could be really useful as a squad player at the least.

Artetas Assistant

I saw that little rampage! He has the poise, he was ice cold in RB

Goo-nerd

He’s got those long spidery Vieira legs. He just needs a chance and he’ll become a proper player.

CLEGooner

Shoton with an excellent Arsenal imitation.

Hantal

A clean sheet for Martinez was all I cared about, the seasons over so we may as well look for positives on an individual basis

Benjamin Udom

Off topic, but that sight of Ozil sitting in the stands with an umbrella made me chuckle. Dude seemed so far from the struggle!

Santori

Have not seen the match. My local cable carrier preferred to show Burnley-Watford over Arsenal go figure…
 
Good to have the win.
 
6 points off United tough ask with Wolves also ther and then Spurs and Sheffield but worth a push with 7 matches left and if should we sneak 5th, certainly worth it bc it will help our transfers and Arteta.

Ausdrexler

Chuckled at Nketia’s celebration. Yes it was aimed at the camera, but geez that kind of thing really needs a vocal crowd behind you! But good on him.

Michael A. Wallace

It was 73 degrees. How is that anything but a cool summer day?:)