Southampton 2-0 Arsenal: Saints go clear of Gunners in race for top four

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Southampton beat Arsenal 2-0 at St Mary’s on New Year’s Day with the Saints securing a huge win over their rivals, as the race for a top four finish heats up.

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Saints went ahead in the first half as Sadio Mane somehow lobbed home from a tight angle, and Dusan Tadic added a second after the break after some more calamitous defending from the Gunners. Towards the end of the match an Arsenal fan ran onto the pitch to tell Arsene Wenger exactly what he thought of their performance. Not pretty.

With the win Southampton remain in fourth on 36 points, that’s three points ahead of fifth-placed Arsenal who were well-below par on Thursday.

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Early on Saints hit the post as Graziano Pelle got free but should have done better as his effort struck the woodwork.

Santi Cazorla had an effort saved by Fraser Forster as Arsenal grew into the match at St Mary’s as the first half played out. But 10 minutes before the break Southampton took the lead as Mane struck with a bizarre goal. A long punt up field saw Wojciech Szczesny come out of his goal but Mane got their first and chipped the ball in as Per Mertesacker failed to clear it off the line. 1-0 to Saints at half time, who could have led by more but James Ward-Prowse was denied and then Pelle shot wide.

Mane had to limp off before the break, as the Senegalese winger felt his hamstring which could cost him a place at the African Cup of Nations.

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In the second half Arsenal could not get past Forster as he denied Alexis Sanchez and soon after Saints went 2-0 up as Szczesny made another mistake. This time the ball was free after a heavy touch from the ‘keeper and Tadic tapped into an empty net.

Soon after it was almost 3-0 as Tadic curled an effort just wide of the post and then Pelle hit the post for the second time in the game and Ward-Prowse smashed the follow-up over, then Pelle had another effort cleared off the line.

Late in the game Arsenal went close with Sanchez curling a free kick onto the top of the net, but the Saints closed things out for an impressive win.

LINEUPS

Southampton: Forster, Gardos (Yoshida, 71′), Alderweireld, Fonte, Bertrand, Ward-Prowse, Wanyama, Tadic (Long, 85′), Mane (Reed, 42′), Steven Davis, Pelle

Goals: Mane (34′), Tadic (56′)

Arsenal: Szczesny, Debuchy (Akpom, 84′), Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Chambers (Walcott, 60′), Coquelin, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Cazorla, Rosicky, Sanchez