Coming into this fixture, Arsenal has had a terrible record in recent years against the saints, winning just one of their last six games away at Southampton. But despite that, there was optimism as Arsenal has found a new resilience this season, evident in their form in the last 4 matches and this gave many something to look forward to.
Arsenal started the match in an unusual, lethargic manner. They lacked creativity and ran out of ideas on too many occasions. At a point it was as if an Arsenal player has been sent off. Southampton’s high pressing especially Shane Long and Saido Mane who played as a front 2 at times when pressing the ball made it difficult for Arsenal defenders to move the ball out of the back quickly enough. This was a match where a controller was needed and one could say this was the kind of match Arsenal missed Cazorla and Sanchez.
In the attack, the ball didn’t get to Ozil quickly enough to control the final third and when it did, he was quickly closed down by the ever determined Southampton’s players who looked hungrier. It seems like stopping Ozil is the new way of stopping Arsenal.
Southampton were more physical, they won all the 50-50 challenges and looked hungrier. And the referee’s decisions only worsened Arsenal’s day. This was a match the gunners should have won to compliment their victory and hard work against Man City but Arsenal being Arsenal bottled it just as they have in the past years.
Hopefully, this is just a wakeup call and doesn’t transform into some poor form which the gunners cannot afford to have. I still think Arsenal is the favourite for the title but to win it, they need to grind out more results from teams like Southampton.
Of course, the concern for the gunners is that they have had several opportunities to go to the top of the table which they have failed to capitalise on. A performance like this can usually be written off as a poor day in the office.
For it to be, they need to show the creativity, desire, hunger, flair and spark we have come to know the gunners with this season in their next matches and to win the league come May, a performance like the one in Southampton cannot be repeated.