ARSENAL 2 VS SOUTHAMPTON 1: Gunners take max points after tense encounter
Nothing prepared Arsenal fans for the gripping drama this fixture was to be. It all looked like it would be an easy, routine win. 2nd Home game of the season, New signings Perez and Mustafi to make their Debuts, a Visiting team without a Win in the new season. What could go wrong?
The game began with the Visitors off to a flier. Quickly settling to a fluent pattern and causing the home team a lot of trouble with their mobility and directness. Nathan Redmond and Dusan Tadic 2 out of the saints front three were particularly tormenting. Claude Puel who played under Arsene Wenger at Monaco looked to have gotten his tactics for the game spot on as Arsenal had no answers to Southampton’s sharp attacking formation. The boldness to have a go at their more established Host yielded reward in the 18th minute of the first half. The effervescent Redmond had danced his way to the edge of the Arsenal Defence and looked to pull the trigger before Nacho Monreal stopped him Illegally. The Spaniard was Booked and Tadic lined up to take the free-kick. The well-struck set peice was tipped unto the bar but still went in off Peter Cech’s back to stun the Emirates. Cruel and unlucky, but the Saints were deservedly ahead on the balance of play.
The hosts were rattled but took the game to Southampton. The only problem for them though was that despite all the effort being put in,the attack was looking quite rudderless. Mesut Ozil, Arsenal’s attacking compass was having a subdued game while Oxlade Chamberlain and Walcott whilst putting in a shift were not looking at all dangerous, New boy Perez seemed very much lost in the scheme of things and it was probably not surprising the equalizer would come from a defender. Laurent Koscielny on his 30th Birthday, responded quickest like you’d expect a striker to after a Carzola corner wasn’t cleared. The Frenchman connected a loose ball with a spectacular overhead kick that beat Frazier Foster all ends up. Questions of a high boot were protested to the referee by the Southampton players but the goal quite rightly stood. Arsenal spurred on by the goal pinned back Southampton in a bid to press home the Advantage but the back 4 of the visitors were well Organised and snuffed out every incursion. 1-1 at the break.
The 2nd half saw Arsenal dominate possesion and improve on their previous incoherrent play in the first half. Perez looked livlier now probably having adjusted to the speed of the game. The saints kept their discipline at the back and should have gone ahead when Substitute and regular Arsenal tormentor Shane Long was put clean through on goal 1on 1 with Cech but his chipped attempt on goal was terrible. He would get another chance via a free header off a free-kick and waste that as well. Wenger eager to inject bite into the attack on the hour mark took out Perez and Oxlade chamberlain and introduced Giroud and Sanchez. Their introductions almost yeilded fruit as Sanchez blazed just over from inside the box. Bellerin Flashed a low shot just wide from the left and Monreal shot wide after being well set up.
Arsenal fans who know this familiar trait where we keep wasting chance after chance only to see the opponents score would have been forgiven for having trepidation at this point. 1-1 with time ticking and Arsenal spurning openings..It looked like our worst nightmares would come true with six minutes left when Pierre-Emil Hojbergs goal bound shot saved by Cech fell nicely to Long who should have scored but yet again fluffed his lines with a tame shot that Cech managed to stop. A real let-off there.
It looked like the points would be shared until late drama occurred, with regulation time almost up Carzola fizzed a low cross from the left..in the ensuing scramble Koscielny received a boot in the Eye. Down on the turf injured the referee allowed play to continue. Sanchez lifted a pass towards Olivier Giroud who was having his Jersey pulled and got eventually fouled by Jose Fonte..The refs whistle blew for the penalty. The Southampton defender was livid but the referee showed him a yellow card for his troubles. So on the dot of 91mins Arsenal had a late life-line to pick all three points deservedly or otherwise. Up stepped Carzola to drill the high pressure Spot kick down the middle to the collective releif of the Emirates. 2-1 was how it ended, 3 points to Arsenal and its on to PSG on Tuesday.