Arsenal 1 Southampton 0: Alexis Spares Arsenal’s Blushes
Arsenal (Alexis 89′) 1 – Southampton 0
This was a game that was absolutely vital for both teams for different reasons. The home side had a shaky start to the campaign and with each passing win confidence was being restored to the team. While the Gunners were incredibly outstanding against Dortmund, the West Brom fixture had a different taste in the mouth but the most important thing was that the Gunners had three points and clean sheets to back their efforts.
Against Southampton, it was as if the Gunners came up against a wounded lion freshly battered from their last home clash against Manchester City. The Saints had been lauded for their early season form but that defeat to the defending champions cast doubts on their ability to maintain their consistency in their tough run of fixtures.
As expected, the away side pressed really hard but the Gunners continued their patient build-up, probing the Southampton defense for an opening but in the away side stood firm. The home team had to resort to half chances and in all honesty, those chances were few and far between. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had a sniff at goal but it was a frustrating sight seeing Danny Welbeck display his shocking Manchester United form. The forward had a chance to open the scoring when Santi Cazorla threaded an inch-perfect pass for the Englishman. A curler from his right boot would have been a better option but he chose to use his left to fire a wayward shot wide. Welbeck continued to struggle as the game progressed and this was epitomized by the moment where he controlled the ball and passed into space where Nacho Monreal was supposed to be.
Despite defending with some valor, Southampton had a chance to grab the lead when Graziano Pelle executed a neat one two but he blasted his effort over the bar.
When Andre Marriner’s whistle ended the proceedings at half time, it was looking like one of those days where things didn’t just work out for the Gunners.
In the second half, the home side played with a lot of urgency but it was the Saints keeper, Fraser Forster, that turned up the style with one of those typical performances most keepers have against Arsenal. The Gunners huffed and puffed but Forster was equal to everything fired at him.
Then Wenger decided to bring on the real OG and many waited to see if he was going to take out Welbeck that had a shitty evening. When the Ox’s number showed up on the board, the boo boys went into full force but that didn’t change anything as Giroud stepped into the pitch with all that handsomeness. From his introduction, Arsenal sprang back to life and Giroud was in the heart of every meaningful attack.
After so much pressure, a glimmer of hope arrived when Toby Alderweireld suffered an injury and with Ronald Koeman making all his three changes, Southampton were down to 10 men and it was a case of whether the Gunners were going to make their numerical advantage count. Of course it did. With Lukas Podolski thrown into the mix, Arsenal continued to apply some immense pressure on the Saints defense and in the 89th minute they finally buckled. Giroud had a shot that was clearly blocked by Jose Fonte’s arm but Ramsey drilled the ball back into the danger area and the man you would want to be at the end of such a ball, Alexis Sanchez, wasted no time in blasting the ball into the back of the net.
The elation of the fans and players alike were clouded by an air of relief because the backlash of a 0-0 draw would have been bad. Interestingly, it wasn’t over when the Gunners scored the late goal. There was that extra measure of maturity to keep things safe and this was shown when Podolski had the ball on the edge of the box and there were only two players in red to receive the ball.
Giroud and Ramsey combined late on but the Welshman’s search for a goal continued as his effort was saved by the superb Forster.
In a week where teams above the Gunners produced wins, it was paramount for the Gunners to follow suit. Well at least they have Alexis Sanchez to thank yet again.
For sparing Arsenal’s blushes.
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