Southampton 2 Arsenal 0: Szczesny Self Destructs as Arsenal Collapses
So we got into the new year with fans making resolutions here and there. A considerable chunk had their minds on yesterday’s fixture with many hoping for a repeat of what happened at the Emirates a couple of weeks ago. Had Fraser Forster not been in fine form on the night, Southampton would have been on the end of a hammering from the Gunners. That defeat to Arsenal coincided with the Saints worst run of form all season long – five defeats on the trot.
Southampton were looking like flat-track bullies that only won games against lower opposition in the league but their spirited 1-1 draw with Chelsea was more or less a warning call to Arsene Wenger and his folks that they won’t be pushovers. They even began the game better than the Gunners with Graziano Pelle’s header missing the net by a few inches. On the other end, Alexis and Cazorla had stingers that were saved comfortably by the English goalie. Cazorla produced a moment of sheer magic to make a fool out of his marker before feeding the Ox with an inch-perfect cross but the winger’s shot lashed wide
Then the moment of Arsenal’s naivety arrived for the hosts. Saido Mane, that was playing his last game for the club before leaving to join up with his compatriots eased past Laurent Koscielny and then Wojciech Szczesny inexplicably raced off his six-yard box to attack the ball with Koscielny retreating towards the goal. The forward saw some pace, took his time and chipped Szczesny. With the ball bearing down on goal, Per Mertesacker made an attempt to mertecept the ball but it turned out to be a futile effort.
I really didn’t understand the game plan our fullbacks had as they kept swinging in crosses into the box like they had a Giroud or Welbeck to attack the balls. Alexis blew Arsenal’s chances of equalizing when he fired a fierce shot that was saved by Forster. While the Southampton goalie was having a stormer, his opposite end was having a stinker and this was epitomized in the buildup to what proved to be the match clincher. A cross was drilled into the Arsenal danger area before it was controlled by Debuchy. For some strange reason, Szczesny used his trailing foot to kick the ball straight at Dusan Tadic that wasted no time in poking the ball home.
The home side continued the onslaught on Arsenal’s goal with Tadic’s curling effort going wide as well as Pelle’s header that was cleared off the line by Debuchy.
The inconsistency of the Premier League referees was on show again when Gardos, who was clearly the last man, scythed down Alexis but he was brandished just a yellow card. Alexis swung the resulting freekick over the bar. With the Gunners seeking a goal, the best Wenger could offer was to bring on Chuba Akpom and a clearly unfit Theo Walcott that had no impact on the game.
A chance to seal a place in the top four was blown to smithereens and with Tottenham’s surprisingly resounding win over Chelsea, Arsenal has dropped down to sixth place on the log table. There were several lessons from the game and it was saddened when the commentator stated that watching Wanyama in the midfield against the likes of Calum Chambers and Francis Coquelin was a classic case of ‘men against boys’. Chambers offered no protection whatsoever to the regular back four and for those that had their bad words against Flamini, well.
The Hull game can’t come any quicker.