Bukayo Saka impressed for the umpteenth time while Nicolas Pepe was much improved as Arsenal came from behind to beat Southampton 3-1 on Tuesday.
Arsenal made a bright start to the game, with Granit Xhaka setting up a fine chance for Alexandre Lacazette, only for the Frenchman to be denied by Alex McCarthy. Shortly after, the Gunners fell behind, as Stuart Armstrong caressed his header from James Ward-Prowse’s corner to hand Southampton an early lead.
Arsenal, though, were level just five minutes later when Nicolas Pepe scored from close range after being released by Xhaka. The visitors continued to grow into the game thereafter and went ahead six minutes before half-time, as Lacazette sent Bukayo Saka through on goal before the youngster rounded the onrushing McCarthy and passed the ball into the open net.
For much of the remainder of the game, it was all Arsenal, who sealed all three points midway through the second half, with Saka returning the favour to set Lacazette up for the third goal. With the 3-1 win, Arsenal climbed up to 8th on the Premier League table and The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Mikel Arteta’s men.
Bernd Leno: 7/10
A fine effort by Leno once again. While he could not have done much to deny Stuart Armstrong, the Arsenal no. 1 made a couple of fine saves to ensure that he did not have to pick the ball up from the net more than once on Tuesday. Solid presence in goal.
Hector Bellerin: 6/10
Strangely enough, Bellerin was not as involved in the proceedings in the final third as Cedric Soares on the left flank. The Spaniard kept things simple when linking up with Saka on the right flank but spent the majority of the game in his half. Solid for the most part, though, on the defensive front.
Rob Holding: 7/10
The ever-present figure in the Arsenal backline produced yet another solid display at St. Mary’s on Tuesday. The Englishman, making his 100th appearance in an Arsenal shirt, was unmoved at the back and imperious in the air, winning 3 aerial duels while also making numerous clearances. Has earned his stripes well this season.
David Luiz: 6/10
Back into the starting lineup in place of Gabriel Magalhaes, Luiz blew hot and cold on Tuesday versus Southampton. The Brazilian was not too troubled off the ball, but his output on it was rather abysmal, uncharacteristically losing possession a number of times (14 to be precise). Needs to do better.
Cedric Soares: 7.5/10
With Kieran Tierney not fit to start, Cedric was deployed in a largely unfamiliar left-back role once again by Arteta. However, unlike the FA Cup tie on the weekend, the former Southampton defender looked much more at home in the position, ably dealing with ex-Arsenal forward Theo Walcott while posing a great deal of threat when charging down the left flank, playing a game-high 3 key passes.
Granit Xhaka: 8/10
Granit Xhaka has now provided as many Premier League assists for Arsenal (14) as Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Alex Song. 😮 pic.twitter.com/3PBlY9E8UV
— William Hill (@WilliamHill) January 26, 2021
One of the most improved players during Arsenal’s recent resurgent run in the Premier League, Xhaka took more steps in the right direction on Tuesday. The Swiss international engineered a fine opening for Lacazette early in the game and earned a deserved assist when he set Nicolas Pepe up for the equaliser. Surprisingly mobile off the ball, which helped him be solid in the defensive phase.
Thomas Partey: 7/10
The man who made a great deal of difference in the middle of the park. Partey helped to wrestle away control from Southampton in the critical moments and his precision on the ball (27/29 completed passes) meant Arsenal moved forward efficiently. A major reason why the Gunners’ press worked so well on Tuesday.
Bukayo Saka: 9/10
What a brilliant young player. Saka was not heavily involved in the action against Southampton but such was his excellence and efficiency on the occasions that he was that he made an impact every time he saw the ball. The English international played a couple of key passes and grabbed the assist for Lacazette’s goal, and showed tremendous awareness to round Alex McCarthy for his goal. Such a gem.
Most goals scored by a teenager in Europe’s top five leagues this season:
🏴 Bukayo Saka (5)
🇺🇸 Matthew Hoppe (5)
🇪🇸 Ansu Fati (4)
🇫🇷 Arnaud Kalimuendo (4) pic.twitter.com/F0l9S6Lu18
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 26, 2021
Emile Smith Rowe: 8/10
He might not have made a direct contribution to any of the three goals that Arsenal scored, but this was another top class effort by the youngster, who just continues to grow in stature. With Martin Odegaard set to arrive soon, Smith Rowe needs to continue to putting in more such displays to keep a hold of his spot, having pulled the strings superbly against Southampton. His injury is a concern for Arteta.
Nicolas Pepe: 8/10
After a disastrous outing in the FA Cup game against Southampton, Pepe made a forgettable start to Tuesday’s match as well, as he switched off before Armstrong netted the opener. The Ivorian, though, did not take long to grow into the game and produced a superb close range finish to draw Arsenal level. Continued to link up well with Saka and Lacazette and worked hard off the ball. More of this.
Alexandre Lacazette: 8/10
Lacazette did not really make the best of starts to the game as he failed to convert Xhaka’s superb through ball. The Frenchman, though, duly made amends over the course of the game, first setting Saka up for what would be the match-winning goal before adding more gloss to the scoreline with his late strike. Has stepped up well for the most part in the past month or so.
Alexandre Lacazette has been directly involved in 8 goals [6⚽️ 2🅰️] in his last 10 appearances across all competitions.
One of each tonight. 🇫🇷 pic.twitter.com/ml1bnxUWDz
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) January 26, 2021
On for the injured Smith Rowe, Willian made an immediate impact as he was involved in the build-up to Lacazette’s goal. Hardly involved thereafter, as Arsenal sought to see the game out.
Mohamed Elneny: N/A
On for Partey, Elneny helped see the game out in the final 15 minutes or so.
Joe Willock: N/A
A late introduction, Willock’s substitution helped tick the remaining seconds off.