Arsenal edge past Southampton


Arsenal edged past Southampton 2-0 at St Mary’s as the Saints were the own worst enemies and the Gunners made the most of their mistakes.

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Alex McCarthy gave the ball to Eddie Nketiah to make it 1-0, then Joe Willock tapped home late on after McCarthy spilled a shot from a free kick moments after Jack Stephens had been sent off.

With the win (their first away from home in the Premier League in 2020) Arsenal are back in the Champions League hunt on 43 points as they won their first points since the restart, while Southampton remain on 37 points.

Three things we learned

1. Heat impacts high-tempo: Both teams love to press high but with the heat in Southampton around 90 degrees, this impacted both teams and Saints probably more. Hasenhuttl’s side weren’t quite as sharp as usual and Arsenal were smarter with their pressing.

2. Arsenal grind it out: It wasn’t pretty, at all, but Arsenal were smart and Arteta will be happy with the clean sheet. Emiliano Martinez made a couple of good stops, Rob Holding was solid at the back, Bukayo Saka was bright on the left and Arsenal were dangerous on the counter. After the nightmare start to the restart, Arteta’s side dug deep and proved they have plenty of fight left. Champions League qualification may be beyond them, but they’re going to give it all they have.

3. Sloppy Saints should be fine: A couple of big mistakes cost Saints dear but apart from that they were equal to Arsenal. They dominated the second half but couldn’t break through and there wasn’t much between the teams. Southampton won’t be relegated but a European push is too lofty. Midtable is fine but right back, center back and central midfield are areas they need to add in this summer.

Man of the Match

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – A menace outside on the left and cutting inside. Forced a red card, hit the crossbar and came close on multiple occasions. The Arsenal skipped led by example.

Bukayo Saka drifted in from the left but was just offside as he crossed for Nketiah to finish as the goal was flagged off.

Aubameyang then raced clear on goal after a long ball over the top and his effort hit the crossbar and somehow came out. Replays showed that Alex McCarthy got the slightest touch to keep out the effort.

Moments later Stuart Armstrong went close for the hosts and Ings was a constant threat in an open, end-to-end clash. Arsenal then took the lead in embarrassing fashion as McCarthy gave the ball straight to Nketiah as he slotted home into an empty net. What a mistake from the Southampton goalkeeper.

Before half time Saints pushed for the equalizer as Danny Ings won the ball back, played it to Ryan Bertrand and his cross just missed Armstrong.

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Southampton started the second half brightly as Ward-Prowse went close but then one long ball over the top from Emilian Martinez caught Southampton out as Aubameyang tried to cross but Jan Bednarek blocked and the ball trickled wide.

Ings had a half chance as Saints kept the pressure up but Arsenal defended resolutely.

Armstrong curled an effort over the bar as Saints pushed forward and left plenty of gaps for Arsenal to exploit on the break. Nathan Redmond slammed into the side-netting from a good position as Saints cranked through the gears.

Shane Long was denied by Martinez and Ings couldn’t quite snag the rebound as the Arsenal goalkeeper denied Saints.

Stephens was then sent off as Hojbjerg put him in trouble as last man and Arsenal doubled the lead from that free kick as Willock slammed home his first Premier League goal after McCarthy spilled Lacazette’s second effort.