Southampton beat Arsenal 4-0 on Boxing Day at St Mary’s in what was a huge win for Saints after going winless in five.
[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]
Here’s three things we learned from the clash at St Mary’s on Boxing Day as Arsene Wenger is still shaking his head somewhere.
MARTINA IS ROBERTO CARLOS IN DISGUISE
It seems like we can only begin in one place when analyzing this game. Cuco Martina’s stunning shot which was reminiscent of Roberto Carlos in his prime.
The Curacao international right back has endured a tough time at Southampton since joining in the summer from FC Twente mainly as a back-up option at full back. On his first start in the Premier League — 18 games into the season — he certainly made a name for himself. Looking at the video above — both of them because, you know, why wouldn’t you want to watch that over and over again? — you can see Martina’s first-ever Premier League goal which will surely be a Goal of the Season contender. The bend he got on that shot from 30-yards is remarkable and the entire stadium looked on for a second of disbelief before Southampton’s fans celebrated wildly. If you didn’t know his name before Boxing Day 2015, you do now. Take a bow, Cuco.
KOSCIELNY, MERTESACKER TURNED TOO OFTEN
With Graziano Pelle out injured perhaps Southampton didn’t have any other option but to go with the pace of Sadio Mane and Shane Long in attack. I bet they’re glad they did now. Arsenal struggled all game long (no pun intended) to contain the pace of those two over the top as Southampton’s midfield clipped the ball in areas Koscielny and Mertesacker just didn’t want to run in. Time and time again the Gunners’ two center backs were turned towards their own goal. Both aren’t blessed with pace so they couldn’t get anywhere near Long and Mane. In fairness you can’t solely put this defeat on Koscielny and Mertesacker’s shoulders because the protection they got from Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini was non-existent at times with Jordy Clasie and Victor Wanyama easily winning the midfield battle.
Southampton had a goal disallowed through Virgil Van Dijk, Long also hit the post and others went close as it could have been six or seven in favor of Saints. Just five days after beating their main title rivals Manchester City in a dominant display, Arsenal’s title charge took a hit at St Mary’s on Saturday and also provided a blueprint for other teams to follow while Santi Cazorla and Francis Coquelin are out injured until March. In simple terms: turn their center backs early and often.
GUNNERS MISS CHANCE TO GO TOP
Going into this game Arsenal had won four-straight games in all competitions and were flying. That good run came to a shuddering halt on Boxing Day as the Gunners missed the chance to usurp Leicester City at the top of the table and gave the other title contenders hope. The Gunners were second-best throughout and their stunning collapse on the South Coast was indicative of the crazy Premier League season so far. Just when you think you have it figured out, a result like this happens. Wenger, Arsenal’s players and their fans have been here before. Each season a weaknesses is shown usually due to injuries or a lack of foresight in the transfer department.
Arsenal really can’t afford to not buy a new holding midfielder in January as the ground they may lose on their rivals in the three months Cazorla and Coquelin are missing would be insurmountable. Worrying times for Wenger but this could be the wake-up call he finally needs to do something big in the upcoming transfer window.