Arsenal v Southampton –
Final Score/Result: Arsenal 2-0 Southampton
Man Of The Match: Olivier Giroud
Arsenal FC extended their lead at the top of the Premier League table with a important win over Southampton at the Emirates.
It was crucial for Arsenal to bounce back in this game after their disappointing loss to Manchester United before the international break. With Everton and Liverpool dropping points in the Merseyside derby and Manchester City facing Tottenham today, this match provided the perfect opportunity for Arsenal to extend their lead at the top. The Gunners are now four points ahead of Liverpool in second place, while Southampton can drop further down the table depending on results elsewhere.
Arsenal started the match brightly and looked sharper of the two sides. The Gunners came close to taking an early lead but hit the posts with two attempts. First Jack Wilshere found his way down the right inside the penalty box and tried to chip Boruc from a tight angle, he got everything right expect for the fact that the ball hit the far post. The second chance was created with a bit of a magic from Aaron Ramsey. Mesut Ozil picked him out with a wonderful pass from the right, but the ball was bit behind the Welsh midfielder and Ramsey attempted an amazing back flick, but unluckily for him the ball hit the bar and went out.
Finally the goal arrived for Arsenal, but frustratingly for Southampton, it was handed over in a plate by a moment of madness from Artur Boruc. The 33-year-old had plenty of time to clear the ball, but he attempted two Cruyff-turns with Giroud closing him down. The Frenchman eventually smothered the ball from him and put the ball in an empty net. Only Boruc can explain why he did what he did at that point.
Southampton responded well after that goal and came out at Arsenal with lot more intent. Jay Rodriguez looked dangerous on the flanks and Victor Wanyama was making his presence felt in the midfield. Szczesny was forced into two good saves.
Arsenal enjoyed good spell of possession in the second half as well, but failed to score the all-important second goal. It looked as if Arsenal’s failure to close out the game would come back to haunt them, but another defensive mistake from Southampton handed over the second goal for the Gunners. Jose Fonte fouled Per Mertesacker inside the penalty box while defending a corner. Olivier Giroud stepped up to take the resultant penalty and completely his brace with a wonderful finish.
Southampton would be disappointed by the way in which they conceded both the goals, but Arsenal were clearly the better side and it was an important win for the Gunners. Arsene Wenger was delighted with the result, but praised Southampton for their effort as well.
“I’m very happy because we were against a good team and they showed why they made good results before.
“We couldn’t take our chances but we took advantage of their mistakes. It’s a very good win against a difficult team. They stopped us well from playing.
“When you see Southampton play today we know why they won at Liverpool and drew against Manchester United. They are a good team and if they had won today they would have been level with us at the top of the league, so that shows you how good they are.” – The Arsenal manager said.
Mauricio Pochettino was pleased with the way his side competed with the league leaders on their home turf, but was disappointed with the result. He refused to criticize Boruc for his mistake and insisted that they need to work harder to make sure there isn’t a repeat of this incident in future.
“I’m clearly unhappy with the result and the way we lost as well, but this is football – these things happen.
“We competed well, though, in Arsenal’s ground, the league leaders. We competed until the last minute and that’s the positive. We tried our best.
“It’s not really necessary to analyse what happened, we all saw it on the pitch. We want to support our keeper in spite of this mistake – these things can happen in football and we need to work hard to make sure they don’t happen again.” – The Southampton manager said.
Arsenal v Southampton – Statistics
Olivier Giroud produced a wonderful performance upfront and win this game for the Gunners. He was a constant threat for the Southampton defence and once again showed how far he has improved as a striker this season. His hold up play was brilliant and he won nearly everything in air and everything that was thrown at him. He deserved the goals for his hard work, not only in attack but also played a crucial part in defending set-pieces against Southampton. The above heat-map depicts his movement and positioning on the pitch in the game.