Arsenal 1-0 Southampton: Analysing The Gunners Display From Back-To-Front

By on December 4, 2014

Arsenal beat Southampton 1-0 at the Emirates on Wedensday night thanks to a late winner from Alexis Sanchez. Here, Gunner33 analyses the performance form back to front.

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Back-to-back wins in the Champions League and Premier League lifted Arsenal spirits as they went into the mid-week clash with this season’s surprise package, Southampton.

The Gunners knew how difficult breaking down this season’s most formidable defence would be, but they could have taken an early lead, had Welbeck found the target after collecting a great Sanchez through ball, inside the first six minutes.

Two sturdy defences meant the first half would end all square, with neither side able to find a way through. Arsenal were more in control after the break and sub Giroud went close on a number of occasions only for Forster to deny him with some excellent stops.

However, with full-time approaching we eventually broke Southampton’s resolve when Sanchez was on hand to sweep home Aaron Ramsey’s pull-back to convert a vital winning goal.

The Gunners climbed up to sixth and now just two-points of fourth. Here, I shall now analyse what was much-needed win.

At The Back: 8/10

Broken on the odd occasion by the likes of Steven Davis, Arsenal were perhaps slightly fortuitous to see Southampton squander their opportunities in the first half with Pelle wasting at least one golden opportunity to open the scoring.

However, overall the defence was excellent throughout this game. Both Koscielny and Mertesacker continue to compliment each other brilliantly, the Frenchman’s pace especially vital at times in this game to deal with a dangerous Saints front-line on the counter-attack. Our full-backs quietened the Saints’ wing-men comfortably, with Monreal keeping Tadic quiet and Chambers rarely tested by Long or Mane on the other flank.

Southampton may have been heralded primarily for their exceptional defensive performances this season, but their quick, intense attacking play has been similarly pleasing on the eye and the way in which the Arsenal defence kept the Saints grounded shows how far the defence has come in recent games.

Midfield: 7/10

Aesthetically Arsenal’s play was not at its greatest, but the work-rate was great and the middle-men especially battled long and hard to match Southampton’s intense game. However, Ramsey’s disappointing form this season continued as his passing was wayward at times and he is certainly lacking a bit of confidence. He did pop up with a vital assist though so hopefully that will give him a much-needed boost.

Oxlade-Chamberlain was rather subdued against his former club but Santi Cazorla continued his good form with another solid display in the middle – although he did lack any real end product to his game. Mathieu Flamini seems to be enjoying a run of games in Arteta’s absence as he produced another impressive performance with the Frenchman showing the discipline to hold his position in front of the defence and break up play.

Up-Top: 7/10

Form is temporary, class is permanent. This a concept no more present than with Alex Sanchez in this game, who was having a relatively poor game against the Saints before grabbing a last minute winner. He may have lost possession on several occasions but he worked his socks off to regain the ball and he showed his class with the late goal.

Strike partner to Sanchez, Danny Welbeck, started badly with a glaring miss and his night didn’t really get any better from there-on-in. Forster played a great part in the Englishman’s failure to score but his showing was dwarfed by Giroud’s arrival who mustered up a myriad of chances.

The Frenchman may not have got on the score-sheet, but his continuous rallies at the Southampton end caused cracks to show and he involved himself in the goal itself, showing great control to trap the ball in the box before finding Ramsey who supplied the winner.

Wenger: 8/10

Now three wins on the trot for a recently under-fire man in the dugout, as Wenger looks to have hushed his critics – for now at least. It’s only right for the manager to take the blame for defeats at times but also receive credit when we win and, personally, I believe Wenger’s tactical awareness and research of his opposition went a long way to winning this game.

The Reds’ boss set up his side to keep men back and take the sting out of the game with a less-attractive approach than normal. He knew Southampton’s strength was hitting us on the counter attack so he ensured the full-backs stayed back more than usual and Flamini barely moved from the center circle.

Overall, a very impressive win for the Gunners who extend the winning streak to three and close-in on the top four. Let’s hope for a similarly impressive and physical showing at Stoke on Saturday.

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