Arsenal 4-2-3-1: Cech – Bellerin Chambers Mustafi Kolasinac – Xhaka Elneny – Nelson Iwobi Welbeck – Aubameyang
Subs: Nelson OFF Wilshere ON (64), Aubameyang OFF Lacazette ON (71), Bellerin OFF Holding ON (74)
Red Card: Elneny (93)
Southampton 3-4-2-1: McCarthy – Stephens Yoshida Hoedt – Soares Romeu Hojberg Bertrand – Ward-Prowse Tadic – Long
Subs: Yoshida OFF Austin ON(72), Long OFF Sims ON(80)
Red Card: Stephens (92)
2 vs 1 on both flanks
Southampton lined up with 3 at the back with their wing backs going forward at all costs. This played into Arsenal’s hands a lot as when the wing backs went out of position, it left the Arsenal wingers with loads of space to bring the ball into and time to pick a pass. When the Centre Halves came to close down the unopposed wingers, it left space in the middle for Aubameyang or Iwobi to run into. This meant Arsenal could expose gaps and create chances throughout the game in which McCarthy pulled of some good saves.
In the periods where Arsenal were piling on pressure and the wing backs stayed in position, there was still joy down the flanks as there would be a full back and a winger to Southampton’s one winger. This means that the favoured quick one-two between Arsenal’s winger and fullback ( Nelson and Bellerin especially in the first half) meant Arsenal could easily get down the outside quite easily. This can be seen in the Danny Welbeck winner when Iwobi had all the space and time to stand up a cross to the back post for Welbeck to head home
Fluid Front Four
The Attacking players for Arsenal to start the game (Iwobi, Nelson, Welbeck, Aubameyang) were very interchangeable which caused headaches for the Southampton players as they had new challenges to face every time. Sometimes they had no one to pick up as they were floating around the pitch. Welbeck and Aubameyang was a prime example as Aubameyang found himself out wide on the left hand side quite a few times whilst Welbeck was through the middle. There was also times where Nelson would find himself in a number 10 position. It seemed they got license from the manager to express themselves like that which dragged Romeu and Hojberg out of position for most of the game. The space then came free for Xhaka and Elneny to pick a pass or even shoot. At the start of the second half this was definitely present when the ball came back out of the box to Elneny and he set it in front of Xhaka for him to strike and forced a great low save from McCarthy. Also, the runs of the front four were something Southampton struggled to handle as the Arsenal attackers all posses great pace and acceleration therefore the Southampton players were always playing catch up. With Aubameyang’s goal, it starts with him getting the ball to Iwobi before making a darting run to the left hand side of the box. Simultaneously, Welbeck is making a run from the left hand side to the centre of the box, almost ‘criss-crossing’ each other. Then Iwobi does brilliantly well to flick it into Welbeck who now finds himself central, and produces an audacious back heel to Aubameyang who then pokes it passed the oncoming goal keeper to make it 1-0 to the gunners.
Although it was a win and everyone is happy, if you watched the game you would have noticed that our defending was little above Sunday league standard. Every time Southampton came forward with purpose , it felt like they would score. The first goal was a joke, Kolasinac was struggling to cope with the numbers Southampton had committed down that side and in that instance, Welbeck offered little defensive support. Therefore Chambers, who was the left centre back, felt the need to try and help his teammate instead of Xhaka/Elneny stepping in. This meant that the gap between Mustafi and Chambers was extremely wide and it would of been harder to not put the ball into that space than to do it. This is exactly what Southampton did although it wasn’t an amazing ball in and Mustafi, a world cup winning German international should easily be clearing. However, he was on his heels and expected Cech to come for it and to this point in time I still don’t know why. If Cech does not give him the shout then he should be dealing with it. Long gets there first and slots it in leaving Cech and the whole stadium feeling aggrieved.
The second Southampton goal epitomised our defending for the past 5 years. One body feint is all you need to fool our defenders, it gets to a comical point after a while. Soares simply puts one leg left and the Arsenal defence is tricked. We made Soares look like a world beater , he then firs it in for Austin to slot home but the inquest into the soft goals we concede needs to be intensified.
My player ratings
Cech : 7/10
Bellerin : 7.5/10
Chambers : 6/10
Elneny : 8/10
Iwobi : 9/10
Welbeck: 9/10 [MOTM]
Lacazette : 7.5/10
Wilshere : 6/10
Holding : 7/10