Arsenal managed to sneak past Southampton with a late, late goal from Alexis Sanchez at the Emirates Stadium.
With both teams looking for a win, and both teams having an attacking mindset, one felt that the game would be all about creating chances and exciting forward play. As it turns out, either both teams played especially poorly or cancelled each other out. One would like to think it was the latter, because both teams managed to bore everyone, with no notable chances being created for a long time after the start.
Things seemed to liven up a bit when Oxlade-Chamberlain had his shot blocked after some good interplay in the forward line, while on the other end, Graziano Pelle blazed over the bar after some neat movement of their own. After that, it seemed like both teams were trying to outdo each other in the number of times they hit the ball into the stands, with Santo Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey and Shane Long getting in on the act.
There seemed to be a bit more purpose to Arsenal’s attacking forays when Olivier Giroud came on for Oxlade-Chamberlain. While the substitution was met with boos, it was mostly because it was the Ox who was subbed and not either Ramsey or Cazorla. Whether the crowd agreed with the sub or not, Giroud almost scored after coming on, and it was only some excellent goalkeeping from Forster that denied both the Frenchman and Danny Welbeck from getting on the score sheet.
That, unfortunately, did not last till the end of the game, with Forster’s heroics not enough to keep out an Alexis Sanchez goal from a Ramsey assist. While the goalkeeper deserved a clean sheet, Arsenal were more deserving of the two teams to get the 3 points, as they created more chances than the opposition.
Arsene Wenger was happy with the way his team played, singling out Giroud, Sanchez and Koscielny for his praise. He said, “It was difficult for us to keep going from the start of the game because we’ve given a lot against Dortmund and on Saturday – today was the third game in seven days. You could see that we had to dig deep.
“We played against a good team who are very well organised and play very quick on the counter-attack. For us it was important not to be exposed on the counter-attack and to keep a clean sheet.
“We had to be patient and wait for our chances and you could see in the last 20 minutes that they started to suffer a little bit physically and that we created openings.
Laurent Koscielny was absolutely outstanding today and he contributes to stabilise our defence. We missed him for nearly two months and it’s important.”
While the game may not have been perfect, Arsenal took another important step in stabilizing their season, while Southampton will take heart from the performance and push on from the next game.