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Arsenal 3-3 Southampton: Complacent. Inefficient. Inconsistent

Arsenal vs Southampton LIVE: Premier League result, final score and  reaction | The Independent


Match Report  Match Highlights – Post-Match Press Conference

Final Result: Arsenal 3-3 Southampton (Martinelli 20′, Odegaard 88′, Saka 90′ | Alcaraz 1′, Walcott 14′, Caleta-Car 66′)

Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1): Ramsdale; White, Holding, Gabriel, Zinchenko (Nketiah 72′); Partey, F. Vieira (Trossard 57′); Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli (Nelson 85′); G. Jesus

Following the dismal run of two draws against Liverpool and West Ham in quick succession, Arsenal had a chance to go seven points clear at the top ahead of their all-important title deciding clash against Manchester City on Wednesday, with a win over bottom of the table side, Southampton. The Saints arrived at the Emirates with a very terrible record against Arsenal, not getting a win in their last 27 meetings against the Gunners, so we thought it was going to be a routine win. Or so we thought.

In recent weeks, Arsenal has been very inconsistent and complacent, always been the architects of their own downfall, and it was on show again as right from the kickoff, Aaron Ramsdale, that had Rob Holding on his right, Gabriel on his left and of course, the Route One option, inexplicably decided to thread a pass to Thomas Partey, who was sandwiched between Carlos Alcaraz and ex-Gunner, Theo Walcott. Alcaraz accepted Ramsdale’s gift of a pass and wasted no time in blasting the ball in, giving the visitors the lead after 30 seconds. This also meant that the two fastest goals in the Premier League this season have been scored by opposition at the Emirates, if you remember Philip Billing’s strike for Bournemouth a couple of weeks ago.

A bad start to the night got even worse when Martin Odegaard lost possession in midfield, allowing Alcaraz to thread the ball behind Gabriel to an onrushing Walcott that showed off great finishing with a one-time strike that went past Ramsdale to make it 2-0 for Southampton. As you’d expect from an ex-Gunner, his celebration was muted, but there was stark silence at the Emirates, as the home team was sinking without trace. 

This prompted Oleksandr Zinchenko to summon the lads to issue a rallying cry and it worked momentarily as Arsenal clawed one back when Bukayo Saka left Romain Perraud for dead on the byline before drilling a cut back that was smashed home by Gabriel Martinelli. That was his 15th strike for the Gunners this season, showing how much he has improved this campaign. With the game open, there was end to end stuff as Southampton almost made it three, but it was thwarted thanks to some decent goalkeeping from Ramsdale – Perraud swung in a cross that was headed by Elyououssi which the Arsenal goalie parried, and the rebound fell to Alcaraz whose shot was pushed over the bar by Ramsdale. 

Arsenal had a glorious chance to make it 2-2 when Martinelli saw Odegaard’s run into the box and swung in a carefully threaded cross to his captain, but the Viking’s header was way off the mark. Arsenal continued to prowl and probe for the equalizer but nothing came from their attacks. There was a health concern when Jan Bednarek landed awkwardly on his neck and was motionless for a couple of minutes before receiving medical attention. A decision was made to substitute him for Duje Caleta-Car but the Polish defender was desperate to return to the fray. That stoppage for Bednarek’s treatment was added to the injury time and Arsenal had four big chances to get the equalizer they craved for but Southampton stood firm. Fabio Vieira sent a cross that was nodded wide by Gabriel or Holding, Saka found Gabriel Jesus in behind the Southampton defense but his shot was saved by Gavin Bazunu, Ben White attacked the near post from Saka’s corner and looped his goalbound header beyond Bazunu, but Alcaraz was on hand to clear the ball on the line and there were some ricocheted shots that was blocked admirably by the opposition defenders.

At the start of the second half, the Southampton gaffer took out the first half hero, Alcaraz, and replaced him with Lyanco, going three at the back. The wind was on Arsenal’s sails but they failed to utilize the opportunities presented to them, and it was exacerbated by Vieira who chose to clip the ball to Bazunu when a shot was clearly the better option, and Arteta decided he has had enough of the ineffectual Portuguese summoning Leandro Trossard in his stead. 

Saka struck the post from a Martinelli cut back, but the ball had rightly gone off the line for a goal kick. Out of the blue, Southampton were three goals to the good when Zinchenko and Thomas Partey dallied on the left flank, allowing Kyle Walker-Peters to deflect the ball off the Ukrainian defender to concede a corner kick. James Ward-Prowse’s corner was attacked by Bella-Kotchap, whose header was buried by Caleta-Car. Holding was nowhere to be found for the first header won by Bella-Kotchap, while Zinchenko unleashed his inner Alexander-Arnold totally unaware of Caleta-Car’s presence, allowing the Croat to nod the ball home.

1-3 down with less than 30 minutes to go. Welp!

In touching moments like these, every chance needed to be buried, so you can imagine the dismay and disgust of the fans when the ever-impressive Martinelli swung in a perfect cross for Gabriel Jesus in behind the Southampton defense but the Arsenal forward’s scoring boots left him as his effort went over the bar. It was a shocking miss for a player of Jesus’ abilities. Shortly afterwards, Zinchenko was substituted for Eddie Nketiah as Mikel Arteta went for broke. When I saw the 80th minute mark, I felt it was over, but the lads kept on going. Saka had an effort that was saved by Bazunu, then Martinelli left the pitch for the Bournemouth hero, Reiss Nelson.

With two minutes of regulation time left, Odegaard received the ball from Ben White on the edge of the area and curled a sweet effort past Bazunu to make it two for the home side. Too little, too late? Nketiah laid off Jesus on the edge and his short was blocked by Lyanco. The pressure continued. Right at the death, some more attacking play saw Nelson fire a shot that was parried by Bazunu to Saka’s path, and the Starboy wasted no time in sidefooting the ball under Bella-Kotchap’s legs to make it 3-3, sending the Emirates to delirium and instilling some hope with the fans, as we had eight minutes injury time.

We all thought the great comeback was complete when Trossard teed up a chance for himself and blasted a missile that beat Bazunu but clipped off the cross bar. Nelson almost had another Bournemouth moment when he pulled the trigger following a goal-mouth scramble, but Ward-Prowse was on hand to block the effort for a corner kick. The final chance arrived when Saka leapt in the air to force a chance for Jesus, but instead of blasting the ball first time, he chose to control it in a tight area and was looking for a penalty, which crowned a disappointing display for the Brazilian forward.

The final whistle felt like a dagger in the heart of everyone connect with Arsenal, as for the third game in a row, the Gunners dropped points against opposition they should have won. While the last two games saw Arteta’s men concede from comfortable two goal leads, yesterday’s game saw them fight back to claw a draw from the jaws of defeat, but it was not enough, as six points have been dropped from a possible nine. When you remember that the next match is against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium, you can’t help but feel dejected, bewildered and perplexed. 

In these three games, defensive frailties have been exposed and the inconsistencies and complacencies of some of the players have taken center stage. Calling out players will do nothing to help our cause, but we can all agree that that the injuries to William Saliba and Takehiro Tomiyasu have hit us real bad. Saliba out injured would have allowed us to deploy White as a center back alongside Gabriel, allowing Tomiyasu strut his stuff on the flank, but in their absence, Holding was called to deputize in their stead and in all honesty, he has been very disappointing. He’s clearly not on the same wavelength with Gabriel, he can’t build from the back with no progressive passes, he dallies on the ball too much and his clumsiness has been on show, a la the penalty at Anfield. Partey is another player that has become a shadow of his former imposing self, making terrible mistakes in critical areas that have directly led to goals conceded. For someone that played like a lynchpin at the start of the campaign, his recent performances have been very poor.

On the other side of the divide, I must laud and wax lyrical on the performances of Gabriel Martinelli that has grown leaps and bounds as the campaign progressed, proving his undoubted potential we knew he always had. Saka has always been a modicum of consistency, but will want to kill the ghosts that haunted him following that penalty miss at West Ham. Odegaard blows hot and cold in games, but his influence cannot be understated, and Trossard has been a live-wire since joining the club. I’d have to cut some slack for Gabriel Jesus, as he was out for almost five months, so he has done very well in the grand scale of things, even though we expect him to be better.

In the end, we can look back on this campaign and feel some pride on how massively the team as improved, but if we lose the title over these recent displays, there will be some measure of regret, as the team was much more capable to going over the line. 

All roads lead to the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday, and we will wait and see what drama the Premier League has to offer in what has been one hell of a season.


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Southampton Preview: JUST. WIN. PLEASE!!!

Granit Xhaka continues goalscoring run with opening goal at Southampton

Southampton arrive at the Emirates tonight on the back on such a dismal run of form that has seen them rooted to the foot of the Premier League table with relegation imminent. Southampton are currently four points from safety, and with the Saints losing games pillar to post, the prospect of them coming out of the encounter against Arsenal with anything of note is slim to none. However, they take an Arsenal side whose confidence has been rocked from two disappointing away results against Liverpool and West Ham that saw Mikel Arteta’s men pick up comfortable two goal leads before throwing them all away, making next week’s Wednesday’s clash against Manchester City an All or Nothing encounter. One thing we know for sure is that Bukayo Saka will remain the team’s spot kick taker, as confirmed by the big boss himself

Arsenal’s record at home has been very good, with 38 points from 15 games played, and they will be latching to this amazing home form, as well as the backing from the Emirates faithful to spur them to another great performance. Arsenal has won 11 of their past 12 home league games versus teams starting the day bottom of the table, only dropping points in a goalless draw against Burnley in January 2022. Southampton are winless in six league games (D2, L4) and have failed to keep a clean sheet in each of the previous five.

Arsenal is currently four points ahead of Manchester City and will take the lead to seven points, this weekend, as the Cityzens have Sheffield United in the semifinals of the FA Cup, after progressing to the semifinals of the Champions League following a victory of Bayern Munich. These essentially means that Man City will have a couple of games in hand, which they will eventually play based on the fixture schedule, and are odds on to close the gap.

To team news, Arteta has confirmed that Gunners might still be without William Saliba, that hasn’t played since the back injury he suffered in the painful loss to Sporting CP in the Europa League Round of 16. His absence, coupled with Takehiro Tomiyasu undergoing surgery, has the Gunners stick with Rob Holding and in all honesty, the Englishman hasn’t covered himself in glory, but I guess we will have to keep managing him for the time being. Jakub Kiwior is still going through his adaptation period, and his baptism of fire against Liverpool in Anfield can only spur him to do better in the future. We also lost the massive influence of Oleksandr Zinchenko in the West Ham game following a groin issue, and Kieran Tierney did okay in his stead, and will be expected to keep his place, before probably going to the bench in the Manchester City game, depending on Zinchenko’s fitness.

To Southampton, Tino Livramento remains a long-term absentee following surgery from an ACL injury suffered a while ago, but they will also be without Mohammed Salisu, Mislav Orsic and Juan Larios. Che Adams is also a doubt after suffering calf injury, while Ainsley Maitland-Niles will be ineligible to play his parent club. 

Arsenal vs Southampton Predicted Lineups

Arsenal: Ramsdale; White, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney; Xhaka, Partey, Odegaard; Martinelli, G. Jesus, Saka.

Southampton: Bazunu; Perraud, Bednarek, Bella-Kotchap, Walker-Peters; Djenepo, Ward-Prowse, Lavia, Sulemana; Alcaraz, Onuachu

Injury / Suspension Updates

Arsenal: Mohamed Elneny (knee), Eddie Nketiah (ankle), Takehiro Tomiyasu (knee), William Saliba (back), Oleksandr Zinchenko (groin)

Southampton: Tino Livramento (knee), Mohammed Salisu (hip), Juan Larios (muscle), Che Adams (calf), Ainsley Maitland-Niles (ineligible)

Form Guide

Arsenal Form

  • Last Five Games: L W W D D
  • Last Result: West Ham 2-2 Arsenal  (Benrahma 32′, Bowen 54′ | Jesus 7′, Odegaard 10′)
  • Leading Goalscorer: Gabriel Martinelli (14)

Southampton Form

  • Last Five Games:  L D L L L
  • Last Result: Southampton 0-2 Crystal Palace (Eze 54′, 68′)
  • Leading Goalscorer: Che Adams (10)

Gooner Daily predicts a 3 – 0 victory.

Kick Off – 8.00pm (GMT +1) at Emirates Stadium.

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Southampton Preview: Rotation Imminent?

Image result for koscielny goal southampton

Following the emphatic win over CSKA Moscow on Thursday, it’s expected for the manager to field a side capable of getting the goods against a struggling Southampton side but I believe rotation is imminent to keep the squad fresh. There are some decisions that are quite easy for Arsene Wenger with David Ospina’s groin injury ensuring that Petr Cech remains in goal today and certainly on Thursday.

I expect the boss to shake things up in defense. Sead Kolasinac is need of a game, and I believe Nacho Monreal deserves a breather today. With Laurent Koscielny still nursing his Achilles tendon injury, I’d expect him to sit today’s game with the likes of Calum Chambers or Rob Holding pairing with Skhodran Mustafi. Hector Bellerin will probably retain his place in the right fullback position.

I’d expect some shuffles in midfield with the likes of Mo Elneny making another case to stake a claim for first team football. Aaron Ramsey had such an amazing outing on Thursday and he’d want to build on that performance, so Granit Xhaka might be rested. Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s knee injury is likely to rule him out till the end of the season, so this offers the likes of Alex Iwobi and Danny Welbeck to feature consistently on one of the flanks, as well as showing the boss what they are capable of, so it would be a nice audition nonetheless.

With Arsenal’s Europa League slots more or less assured, a victory will be good for momentum as the Gunners have picked up a rich vein of form which is a stark contrast from how they started 2018 with a series of horrible losses that made everyone request for Arsene Wenger’s head on a plate. Let’s just hope the good form continues.


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