Gunners put six past Saints
Written By: Robert Halter
Arsenal winger Theo Walcott and striking partner Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were groomed at Southampton as the newly promoted Saints made their first visit to the Emirates Stadium on the back of three consecutive defeats on their return to the top flight compared to the Gunners three clean sheets. Arsenal started in the ascendancy as Lukas Podolski had a pop at goal on three minutes but the ball was picked up by Kelvin Davis in the Saints goal. Two minutes later Santi Cazorla drove the ball over the bar from Oxlade-Chamberlain’s right wing cross. In unfortunate circumstance for Southampton, it was the Gunners that forged ahead in the eleventh minute when from the left side of the penalty area, Kieran Gibbs had a low strike that cannoned off Saints keeper Davis before deflecting off his own centre half Jos Hooiveld into the centre of the net. Another defensive mistake by the Saints resulted in Cazorla’s corner being palmed by Davis onto his own club captain Adam Lallana and when the ball came back in from Francis Coquelin’s cross, Per Mertesacker sent his header directly at Davis, midway through the first half. It was a disappointing afternoon for Hooiveld, who was replaced by Maya Yoshida, with just over a quarter of the half remaining. The Gunners increased their advantage in sensational fashion in the thirty first minute, after Steven Davis fouled Coquelin and from a long range free kick, Podolski curled the ball over the Saints wall and high into the Southampton goal as Kelvin Davis was helpless in preventing Arsenal’s second. The Gunners began to flourish and added a third four minutes later, with a chip over the top by Mikel Arteta finding an unmarked Gervinho, who made no mistake with his effort by drilling the ball into the right side of the net. Disaster struck again for Southampton on thirty seven minutes when Gervnho spread the ball out to Gibbs on the left hand side, whose ball into the box was hooked into his own goal by Nathaniel Clyne. On the stroke of half time, a howler by Wojciech Szczesny gave the Saints a consolation goal, after the Gunners goalkeeper dropped a cross from Jason Puncheon and Daniel Fox capitalised on the mistake by slamming the ball into the net. The Saints squandered a gilt edge chance to add to their tally, when Rickie Lambert, spun the ball wide from a low cross from Gaston Ramirez, who had come on as a second half substitute for Steven Davis, after fifty seven minutes of play. The Gunners added a fifth in the seventy first minute when Cazorla found space out on the left for substitute Aaron Ramsey, a replacement for Coquelin, and after Ramsey turned past Clyne, his strike across goal deflected off the right post and Gervinho had the easiest of tasks of tucking the ball away from close range for his second of the game. Moments later Oxlade-Chamberlain hit a long range blast that required an acrobatic tip over by Davis to prevent a sixth. Gervinho was denied a hat trick when he was replaced by Walcott as Arsenal changed the strike force by also brining on Olivier Giroud for Podolski. The Gunners eventually added a sixth in the eighty ninth minute, when Cazorla touched the ball onto Thomas Vermaelen, whose strike at goal was kept out at full stretch by Davis but from the rebound Cazorla teed up Walcott, who smashed his effort into the left side of the net, to score against his former club with a muted celebration. Szczesny’s legs then prevented Puncheon adding to the Saints score before Oxlade-Chamberlain’s low strike was deflected narrowly wide at the end but it was a comprehensive win for the Gunners, building on their 2-0 away victory at Liverpool, just under a fortnight ago.