What a week the Gunners have had following their emphatic win against CSKA in the first leg home tie of the Europa League, as they ran riot to a 4-1 win at the Emirates; continuing their brilliance in the Premier League as they hosted Southampton at the Emirates, in a blood-pumping encounter which the Gunners won by a scoreline of 3-2, to make it six wins in six games – leaving the visitors hanging by a thread as they battle relegation.
With the second leg of the Europa League insight on Thursday, Arsene Wenger rotated his squad as he rested key members of the squad. Starting in goal was Petr Cech, Hector Bellerin, Shkodran Mustafi, Calum Chambers, Sead Kolasinac, Granit Xhaka, Mohamed Elneny, Reiss Nelson, Alex Iwobi, Danny Welbeck and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang made the eleven-man starting list; leaving the likes of Mesut Ozil, Nacho Monreal, Aaron Ramsey and Laurent Koscielny on the bench and completely out of the matchday squad.
The Visitors were the first to come threatening, as they were denied a goal in the first twelve minutes of the match when Hector Bellerin cleared the ball off the line. Jack Stephens played a long pass to Tadic, who set up James Ward-Prowse and, although his strike beat Petr Cech, Hector was there to clear just a few meters on the line.
However, the opening goal didn’t take too long to get following the clearance made by Bellerin to prevent the visitors from scoring. An error from Mustafi led to the Gunners conceding the first goal, as Mustafi left the ball bounce freely just right in front of the six-yard box – which Shane long took advantage off and slotted the ball into the corner of the post, beyond Cech’s reach.
Iwobi started the game poorly but it was interesting watching him grow in the match as he completed the full 90 minutes with two assists and was crucial to the Gunners first goal. Ten minutes after going behind, the Gunners responded in fine fashion, Alex Iwobi played in Welbeck who would then flick a delicious pass into the path of Aubameyang, who tapped home his sixth goal in seven Premier League games since joining the club in a record transfer move.
Ten minutes after the equaliser, That Guy Welbz sprung to life, oozing of confidence as he put Arsenal ahead with half-time insights. Iwobi once again played Welbeck on, who cut in from the edge of the Saint penalty box before taking his shot that deflected off Yoshida and beyond the reach of the Saint’s goalkeeper, sending all guns blazing at the Emirates.
Early in the second half, Granit Xhaka had a long-range effort that was saved by Alex McCarthy, with the Swiss international lining up a thunderbolt with his left foot outside the box; that was aimed at the corner of the post, but McCarthy dove low to save the effort. Iwobi also had his effort denied by McCarthy when he took his effort with the outside of his right boot – which seemed to be curling in but was saved by McCarthy.
Shane Long thought he must have equalised for the Saints just after the hour mark but he was rightly ruled for offside. Cedric lined up a long ranger which seemed to be heading off target, but a sweet one-touch diversion of the ball into Cech’s net would see the Irishman’s celebration last just two seconds.
Southampton would eventually pin back Arsenal to grab their equaliser with 17 minutes left to play. Cedric drove into the area, rounding Calum Chambers and squaring the ball across goal for Austin to tap home only after 72 seconds coming on the pitch.
Danny Welbeck missed a sitter from within the six-yard box in the closing minutes of the match, which if he had left it for a free Lacazette, would have buried it in the net; but rather went for glory unbalanced sending the ball over the net.
Not long after, the Englishman made amends for his error and scored what was the winner to secure three points for his team. Iwobi once again was crucial to this goal, as he danced around with a Saint’s defender before delivering an inviting cross with his left foot which Welbeck headed in to make it six straight wins for the Gunners.