Arsenal suffered a morale hurting defeat to Southampton as a brace from Danny Ings and a late winner from Charlie Austin ended their unbeaten run.
Arsenal have the tendency to lose games least expected of them, and Unai Emery’s men succumbed to a late Charlie Austin winner which brought about an end to their terrific 22-game unbeaten run. Danny Ings scored a brace during the game as Southampton twice took the lead in the first half, but Arsenal got back on level terms as many times.
Emery will be rueing some of the missed chances that fell to his players in both halves, which by Arsenal’s current standards were forgettable. In fact, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was gifted a good chance in the first half, which was not well taken, before Danny Ings put the hosts into the lead with a good header from a Matt Targett cross. Henrikh Mkhitaryan then levelled with a header of his own.
Ings again gave the lead with another headed goal, and then under ten minutes following the start of the second half, Mkhitaryan pulled the second goal back with a deflected shot. Charlie Austin then came off the bench to score the winner and his fifth goal in as many appearances against the Gunners. In the end, it was a terrible evening for Arsenal, who might have lost Hector Bellerin to an injury.
Here’s how Arsenal’s players fared on the night.
Bernd Leno: 6/10
One could quickly put the blame on the German for the Southampton winner, although it wasn’t his fault because he only had two options to do. Otherwise, Leno made some excellent saves, particularly the header from Maya Yoshida. For the other goals, he could hardly be blamed as both came courtesy of slack defending from the Arsenal defenders.
Hector Bellerin: 6/10
Bellerin had a decent game up until his injury. The Spaniard got well behind the defence in support of the more ineffective trio, and also contributed to attack efficiently, especially trying to make up for Sead Kolasinac’s absence on the left flank. Arsenal will be hoping the injury is not too severe and only a minor knock.
Stephan Lichtsteiner: 5/10
Like Arsenal’s overall defence, it wasn’t to be his day. Emery’s plan to field a cobbled up back three in the face of the crisis severely backfired. Lichtsteiner was decent, but it was clear from the start that he wasn’t suited for the position. Did move into the right-back slot in the second half, but didn’t fare any better.
Laurent Koscielny: 5/10
One cannot completely blame Koscielny for a poor performance like this one. With only 72 minutes of first-team action under his belt this season and coming back from a severe injury, a top-class performance wasn’t expected in the first place, and Koscielny rightly struggled for large parts. He should get better from here on, and lead his side better in next games.
Nacho Monreal: 6/10
Sort of filled in the enormous void in attack left by Kolasinac’s absence, contributing with the assist for the first goal. However, his rustiness was evident when Southampton scored the third, as he did not close in on the attackers to cover up.
Granit Xhaka: 7/10
The higher rating is because he actually performed well in defence. It is hard to criticise a player tasked with defending centrally when he is not even a defender in the first place. Despite a susceptible first half performance, Xhaka grew into the role in the final 45 minutes and performed admirably.
Lucas Torreira: 7/10
Despite the overall team performance being poor, Torreira’s game showed no signs of slowing down. His incisive passing, accurate positioning and some last-ditch challenges near the Arsenal box showed his grit and character on the pitch. Unfortunate to be on the losing side.
Matteo Guendouzi: 6.5/10
There are two parts to Guendouzi’s game; one is his erratic positioning and lack of creativity, second is what he does to make up for that. Guendouzi tried to make things happen his way, kept the energy up in midfield and also sent in a wonderful over the top ball for Aubameyang to score, which the striker missed. Emery needs to figure out how to utilise the midfielder better in the coming days.
Alex Iwobi: 4/10
Apart from setting up the first goal with an incisive pass for Monreal, Iwobi was a disappointing figure in Arsenal’s attack. Every time he had the ball and made his typical direct runs, the expectation was that he would be robbed of it soon, and it happened every single time. Needs to be dropped for either Mesut Ozil or Aaron Ramsey for Emery to boost his side’s creativity.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan: 7.5/10
The only bright player in the Arsenal attacking setup on the evening. Mkhitaryan proved to be the visitors’ main threat, scoring twice, one with a brilliant, bullet header and the second with a shot that deflected past McCarthy. Overall, he answered some of his critics that he might not be contributing enough.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: 5/10
Aubameyang gets into brilliant positions, and usually scores, but Sunday was a different story. Missed a couple of good chances to score, almost missed a sitter, a moment where he was actually spared by a last-ditch tackle from Jannik Vestergaard. Overall, it does look like he plays better with Alexandre Lacazette on the pitch.
Alexandre Lacazette: 6.5/10
As usual, when he came on Arsenal looked like a different attacking unit. Lacazette orchestrated some excellent moves, only without an end product. However, the conclusion is that he needs to be on the pitch right from the first whistle when fit.
Mesut Ozil: 5.5/10
Took his time to settle in after coming off the bench with 20 minutes or so to play. When he did settle in, Ozil tried with his usual creative furor to set up things for his teammates. Nothing came to fruition.
Ainsley-Maitland Niles: 3.5/10
Not a good contributing substitute. Maitland-Niles seemed uninterested in the proceedings and the poor backup run to cover the defence for the third goal summed that up. Needs to improve if he is to succeed at the club.