Gunners back to winning ways with 3-0 victory over Saints
Arsenal moved up to fifth in the Premier League table – at least until this evening – with a 3-0 victory over Southampton at the Emirates Stadium this afternoon.
Goals from Alexandre Lacazette – his first since October – plus headers from Martin Odegaard and centre-half Gabriel, got the Gunners back on track following disappointing defeats at Manchester United and Everton recently.
Southampton started the better of the two sides, and if it were not for the excellent Aaron Ramsdale in the Arsenal goal, this game may have followed a far different path.
Five minutes in Nathan Tella turned Takehiro Tomiyasu in the centre of the park before drawing a save from Ramsdale from the edge of the box. Adam Armstrong then saw a shot form similar range deflected for a corner.
Just two minutes later Ramsdale was again called into action, this time saving low down from Armstrong.
On 12 minutes James Ward-Prowse’s free-kick from a central area bounced awkwardly in front of Ramsdale, who again was forced to save the Gunners.
The Saints pressure continued as the half wore on. Bukayo Saka bundled over Kyle Walker-Peters on the edge of the box on 18 minutes and, from the resulting free-kick, Ward-Prowse curled his free-kick just over the Arsenal goal.
But completely against the run of play Lacazette, captaining the Gunners in the absence of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – left out of the squad for another disciplinary breach – gave Arsenal the lead on 21 minutes.
In what was their best moment of the game thus far, Saka got down the Saints left and pulled a cross back for the Frenchman, who hammered home past Willy Caballero for his first goal since the 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace here in October.
And it was 2-0 on 27 minutes - Kieran Tierney’s persistence down the left led to the goal. When his cross came back off Valentino Livramento, Tierney nodded the ball into the box where it was met by another head – that of Martin Odegaard, who beat Caballero from six yards.
It could have been three a couple of minutes later, but Lacazette couldn’t find the unmarked Saka.
Five minutes before half-time came another beautiful move from the home side. Caballero’s clearance was intercepted by Granit Xhaka who found Odegaard. The Norwegian then played in Saka with a sublime back-flick, but the Argentinian ‘keeper redeemed himself with a save low down which just about kept his side in the contest at the break.
The second half started slowly, with Arsenal orchestrating the first half chance, Odegaard firing over on 51 minutes.
At the other end Ramsdale was again in action, Tella drawing a full-stretch save from the England ‘keeper.
Gabriel had the ball in the net shortly afterwards, but the linesman’s flag halted the celebrations. However he wasn’t to be denied for long, and it was 3-0 on 62 minutes, Gabriel Martinelli’s corner from the left headed home by the Brazilian, sending Saints fans to the exit.
The chances were coming 10 to the dozen for the Ginners by now. A minute later Martinelli curled a beautiful effort against the post, Caballero beaten all-ends-up, before the ‘keeper was drawn into a save low to his left.
Thomas Partey then almost got himself on the score sheet, but this time the opposite post saved Saints.
Southampton then almost got a goal back, Nathan Redmond twisting and turning on the edge of the box before unleashing a shot which was fantastically tipped wide by the ever-impressive Ramsdale.
The ‘keeper was called into action again a minute later, this time saving from Tella.
Opponents at the level of Saints don’t offer much threat to this Gunners team, but their results against those in the top six need to improve quickly if they are to have any hopes of a top-four finish this season – starting here against West Ham on Wednesday.
Arsenal: Ramsdale, Tierney, White, Partey, Gabriel (Holding, 69), Saka, Odegaard, Lacazette (Pepe, 83), Tomiyasu, Xhaka (Sambi Lokonga, 80), Martinelli
Southampton: Caballero, Walker-Peters, Stephens, Ward-Prowse, Armstrong (Elyounoussi, 43), Redmond, Broja (Lyanco, 69), Livramento, Tella, Diallo, Bednarek
Referee: Jarred Gillett