Profligate Arsenal Lose Further Ground on Title Race
Arsenal 0 Southampton 0
The players knew what was expected of them – the return of two points from a possible nine was not good enough for a Championship contending side so anything less than three points would be regarded as a big disappointment, bearing in mind that fellow title hopefuls, Leicester and Manchester City, had games of their own with the potential to win them of course.
Arsene Wenger brought back his trusted XI with a couple of eyebrows raised when Mathieu Flamini started ahead of Francis Coquelin. Theo Walcott deserved his place on the bench as Alexis Sanchez returned to the fray following his match winning exploits against Burnley. The visitors were prepared to sit back and hit the Gunners on the break, which also preempted the manager to deploy Gabriel Paulista ahead of Per Mertesacker.
Arsenal probed and pressed the Southampton rearguard with the first clear cut chance of the game arriving when Alexis lofted a sumptuous ball to Mesut Ozil, whose first touch was Dennis Bergkamp-esque but he didn’t have the finish to match. A straight shot at Fraser Forster that offered no threat whatsoever. Ozil showed some alertness again to react first to a Giroud flick but his shot was fired straight at Forster yet again. This paved the way for what would be the story of the night – woeful finishing from the Gunners.
With Ozil missing a couple, it was Giroud’s turn to get in line with a right-footed effort that was saved by Forster. The Saints had a couple of half chances but they were easy pickings for Petr Cech. In the second half, the Gunners continued to barrage the Southampton defense with little or no progress and it was turning out to be ‘one of those nights’. Alexis showed great technique to bring the ball under control and managed to fire a shot that left Forster rooted to the spot but a defender was on the line to clear the ball to safety.
Wenger took out Joel Campbell and brought on Theo Walcott in his bid to get something out of the game. Within minutes of his introduction, Walcott was sent through on goal he fired a pathetic tame shot that was parried by Forster. The Englishman had a second bite of the cherry but the Southampton shot stopper was on hand to make another save.
News of Leicester leading Liverpool didn’t help and with Tottenham tearing Norwich apart, Arsenal had dropped to rather familiar surroundings – fourth place. Even with six minutes of stoppage time, the Gunners didn’t have enough in the tank to get that all-important goal and the sound of the ref’s whistle brought an air of frustration, as the Gunners had amassed three points from a possible 12 – definitely not good enough for a title challenging side. In the same period where the Gunners have managed just three from 12, Leicester has gained 10 points, Tottenham nine points and Manchester City with eight.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. Arsenal can still catch up with the leading pack but they need to start winning games and quickly! There’s a lot of time to go back to the drawing board between now and Sunday’s clash with Bournemouth.
Just expect the usual ‘you need to stay positive’ kinda crap articles on the official site.
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