Arsenal 2 Southampton 0: Gunner Capitalize on Costly Errors to Extend Lead at the Top
Emirates Stadium (Premier League)
Arsenal started the game bearing in mind that Liverpool had dropped two points in the Merseyside derby. With no injuries suffered in the international break, Arsene Wenger had a relatively healthy squad to choose from. Per Mertesacker replaced Thomas Vermaelen in defense while Mathieu Flamini’s suspension allowed Aaron Ramsey to get another run out in the middle.
Southampton are renowned for their high pressing game and they applied it with Morgan Schneiderlein and Victor Wanyama charging hard and covering a lot of ground for their team.
Arsenal’s first meaningful attack came when some lovely passing play between Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud allowed Jack Wilshere a chance at goal from a tight angle. The Englishman executed a deft chip into the area and the ball glanced above Artur Boruc in goal before clipping the post. The Polish keeper smothered the ball on the second attempt.
The Gunners continued to probe the Southampton defense and there was a moment when Ozil teed up a brilliant ball for Ramsey and the Welsh man executed a lovely back heeled effort that beat the keeper and hit the post. That was the kind of goal that would have matched such an intricate build up.
Southampton had a foray forward from the right with Nathaniel Clyne somehow evading Kieran Gibbs and Laurent Koscielny to bore down on goal but he rallied on the ball for a long time and the ball went out for a corner kick.
The match opener arrived in a rather hilarious fashion as Clyne supplied a simple back pass to his goalkeeper and with Giroud closing down on Boruc he decided to invoke the spirits of Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi to attempt a futile effort of dribbling Giroud. The Frenchman robbed the Pole and slammed the ball into an unguarded net.
Southampton almost got an equalizer when Mikel Arteta poor attempt of a clearance fell kindly to Adam Lallana but his goal-bound shot was saved by Wojciech Szczesny. Lallana was involved again as he created a chance for Jay Rodriguez and the forward controlled the ball and fired a shot that was parried by Szczesny.
Lallana got another chance early in the second half but it was easy pickings for Szczesny. Arsenal went all Norwich on Southampton with Ramsey and Giroud attempted some short passes but the move failed to come into fruition.
Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla connected well but the Spaniard’s effort was blocked. Gibbs showed great positional play to open up himself and evade a marker but his attempted pass to Giroud was blocked. Ozil also did well to skip past his marker but his shot was saved by Boruc.
Sagna lofted in an inch-perfect cross that was headed goalwards by Wilshere but Boruc was on hand to make a simple save. After two months out, The Emirates crowd cheered as Theo Walcott replaced Cazorla. Arteta suffered an injury and was replaced by Tomas Rosicky.
Ozil saw Walcott in behind the defense but Walcott’s one-timed pass to Giroud was heavy. Nacho Monreal came on for Ozil to provide support on the left. Wilshere showed great determination to win the ball and tee up Ramsey, who fed Walcott but his shot on goal went wide.
Jose Fonte wanted to exchange jerseys with Mertesacker in the box leaving the referee no choice but to point to the spot. Giroud took responsibility and sent the keeper the wrong way to make it two.
Arsenal’s win sends them four points clear at the top.