Saints pay the penalty at Arsenal
Written By: Robert Halter
Lucas Perez Martinez of Spain and Shkodran Mustafi from Germany made their home debuts for Arsenal in the September showdown with Southampton as the Gunners looked to better their record over the Saints of just one win in six while Southampton attempted to end a barren run of three games without a goal at the Emirates Stadium. The Saints broke on five minutes with a cross by Dusan Tadic and a flicked header over from Jay Rodriguez. In the fourteenth minute, Rodriguez was again unable to convert a header from a cross by Cedric Soares on the right. But on eighteen minutes, Southampton reaped their reward, after Nacho Monreal was booked for pulling down Nathan Redmond on the edge of the d and from Tadic’s free kick the ball bounced off the underside of the crossbar and then against the back of Petr Cech, for an own goal by the Arsenal goalkeeper. On twenty four minutes, after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was surrounded by Soares and pushed to the floor by Saints captain, Jose Fonte, a free kick from Santi Cazorla on the left corner was headed over by Theo Walcott for the Gunners first goal threat. But Arsenal fired back into the game in the twenty ninth minute, when from Cazorla’s corner and a knock on by Francis Coquelin, a failed headed clearance by Ryan Bertrand, was met with a stunning over head kick by Arsenal captain, Laurent Koscielny, which ripped into the back of the net. At half time, Rodriguez was replaced with Shane Long. In the fifty third minute, a header by Walcott failed to find the target off a corner by Mesut Ozil, as the Saints keeper Fraser Forster, then had a caution for slow play from the goal kick. Three minutes later from an assist by Oriol Romeu, a long range effort from Long was caught comfortably by Cech. In the sixty first minute from a back heel by Ozil and then a pull back from Coquelin, the ball was driven wide of the left post by Hector Bellerin, with a well struck effort. Arsenal then replaced Martinez with Olivier Giroud and also Oxlade-Chamberlain with Alexis Sanchez while Southampton had an enforced change of Jordy Clasie with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. But on sixty six minutes from a ball over by Tadic, after running through, Long could not put Arsenal to task, as he chipped the ball over Cech but wide of the far post. Two minute later, it was the Gunners turn to let an opportunity slip by, as Sanchez latched onto a pass by Ozil but blazed over the top of a gapping goal. Another chance went begging for the Saints, as from Redmond’s cross on the right, the ball was headed over by Long in the seventy fourth minute. Arsenal then switched Walcott with Alex Iwobi and then pressed for the victory on seventy seven minutes, after Virgil Van Dijk gave the ball away to Sanchez but then made amends by tracking back to block out Cazorla’s effort. The Gunners kept up the pressure with a threaded pass from Iwobi before a first time strike by Monreal took a deflection off Soares, to put the ball wide of the mark in the seventy ninth minute. The Saints then replaced Tadic with James Ward-Prowse. But it was the Saints, who could have stolen a march on eighty three minutes, as Hojbjerg’s strike from outside the box was parried by Cech and then Long was denied from the rebound by a crucial block by Cech with his legs to divert the ball behind. It was then Arsenal who were left to rue a missed opportunity, when from Cazorla’s delivery, a header by Giroud was put into the outside netting of the near post, two minutes later. Although, Southampton gave the game away in stoppage time as Fonte was penalised by referee, Robert Madley, for rolling over Giroud in the area, and up stepped Cazorla to send Forster the wrong way, by placing his spot kick down the centre and win three priceless points for Arsenal as the former mentor Arsene Wenger got the better of his previous pupil and now the Saints boss Claude Puel, who was a player at AS Monaco, when Wenger was in charge.