Arsenal started the New Year in disastrous fashion, losing by 2 goals to Southampton at the St. Mary’s stadium, and missed a chance to go close to 3rd place after Manchester United dropped points once again.
The game itself was fantastic, both teams showing exactly why they are considered very attractive sides to watch. Both Arsenal and Southampton did their best to fashion attacks, and both teams came really close a lot of times. However, it was a goalkeeping error that finally broke the deadlock, with Koscielny losing his man and Szczesny way out of his goal line, give Mane the chance to curl the ball in, an effort that a desperately diving Mertesacker couldn’t keep out.
Arsenal tried hard to get level the scores but they just couldn’t find the breakthrough. The second half turned worse for them, as yet another goalkeeping error ensured that Southampton had a 2 goal cushion. As the game wore on, Arsenal became increasingly desperate, and their defending was all over the place as a result. However, Southampton couldn’t take advantage of it, but saw out the game to take all 3 points and get closer to 3rd place Manchester United, while Arsenal dropped down to 6th place, below Tottenham Hotspur.
After the game, Arsene Wenger talked about regret on losing the game, especially since it was due to mistakes from his team’s defence.
He said, “The regret is that we lost this game because it was a self-inflicted defeat. We had chances to win this game and when we were in control we made the mistakes in our final third that allowed them to win the game. It’s unfortunate but there was much more in this game than the 2-0 defeat. We gave a lot and their keeper kept them in the game. We made the mistakes at the back that basically meant we were punished.
We were comfortable compared to last year where we played 2-2. It was a game where we were thinking, ‘we will win this game’, but we paid for the lapses of focus in vital areas.
It’s difficult to find an obvious reason straight after the game. There was a misunderstanding and maybe the few games on the trot – we faded a lot at West Ham and we were not fresh enough today.”
Arsene was also concerned about the team’s consistency in putting together a winning run, after they lost yet another chance to win 3 games in a row. He said, “Today, more than the [league] positioning, it’s that it was a game that was winnable and we lost. That is my main concern today, more than fourth place because you need to be consistent defensively at the start.”
While the league title is out of the question, Arsenal are not too far away from finishing 3rd at the end of the season. However, if they are to have any hope of doing so, they need to start taking advantage of any points dropped by the teams around them and start winning games on a more consistent basis.