Revenge Is Served Up As Arsenal Take Fourth

Arsenal 2 – 0 Southampton

All the drama came elsewhere on what was generally a good day for Arsenal. The first half performance against Southampton stands comparison with the best of Unai Emery’s reign. It was a touch disappointing to go in only 2 – 0 ahead at the interval when we could quite easily have doubled that.

The benefit of an early goal was once again felt and as with Thursday night, there was an element of good fortune about it. Not in a defender turning the ball into his own net kind of way; simply your centre-forward getting a touch on the ball six yards out, unmarked and right in front of the goalkeeper. Things evened up later when Lacazette skied a shot which was, if anything, easier to score.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan added the second, his first goal since we lost 3 – 2 at St Mary’s back in December. To be honest, seeing how poor Southampton were yesterday makes that defeat all the more baffling. They are a side in grave danger of relegation and playing like it.

However, the second half offered them hope. Bernd Leno put up a good argument for Man of the Match, not because he was the best performer in the match, simply that he made crucial saves in the second forty-five minutes, and in the first as well.

Which makes the match seem a bit harum-scarum after the interval and that’s not entirely true. Southampton began the second half more purposefully while we were content to exploit spaces. Because we didn’t score, a jaundice tinges the performance when the reality is we could again have doubled the score.

The platform for victory was the midfield pairing of Xhaka and Torreira while the inclusion of a Nº10 in the shape of Ramsey first, then Özil, gave us more balance in attack.

A Beautiful Day

Which leaves questions for Unai Emery. The passing game which serves us well surfaced as we moved the ball quickly and (largely) accurately. It followed on from Thursday night and two clean sheets in a row offer some substance to the formation’s employment.

Tempering that is the standard of opposition. I’m not sure that Saturday permits us to play with this freedom; at Wembley, there will naturally be some caution. The question is whether Emery’s natural conservatism mixes with that to the detriment of the team.

Before then, we play Bournemouth with Unai suggesting there will be rotation in the team. Iwobi picked up a knock but the extent of the injury is not yet known. Unlike Lichtsteiner who he expects to be fit and similarly Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who didn’t feature yesterday.

Defensively, Mustafi didn’t have a Mustafi-moment which may cause some optimism that he can be cured of his brain-farts; you’re more optimistic than I if you think that will happen.

Crucially for the weekend, Koscielny showed no ill-effects of the injury suffered on Thursday which offers an optimistic outlook. Expect to see him or Sokratis play against Bournemouth but not both; surely they are saved for the weekend?

It proved to be a good day for Arsenal. United were held by Liverpool which sent us back into the top four. To be honest, we could do with them dropping points again to give us some security for the weekend but it will be what it is going to be.

As for Chelsea, you wonder how much damage was done by the Kepa incident. It was stupidity on the player and coach’s behalfs but sums up the mess they are in. Another defeat will knock them out of the running for the top four places, surely?

I don’t know, it’s just funny watching another club implode in front of our eyes. As it is, three points and the sun is shining. What more can you ask for? A pint for lunch, you say? Don’t mind if I do.

’til Tomorrow.

65 thoughts on “Revenge Is Served Up As Arsenal Take Fourth

  1. Before I talk about our game, I wonder what a proper Captain like Tony Adams would have done in that situation…me thinks he walks over to Kepa and drags him off the pitch and dares him to come back on.

  2. Its amazing that Lacazette rarely gets mentioned when discussions about best strikers in the PL get talked about. I think he does and gives us everything thing Firmino gives and does for Liverpool except Lacazette is a better finisher.

    I agree though Yogi, with Xhaka and Torriera as a base, we look a balanced side and long may that continue.

    Leno is growing, learning and understanding the PL with each match.

  3. Good 3 points & importantly plenty left in the tank for Wednesday & Saturday.

    I agree that Laca is underrated, though I doubt any defenders he plays against would agree. If both he & Auba can get close to that magic 20 league goals we may even Nick 4th.

  4. For all the talk of Kane/Son(26), Mane/Salah(29), Aguero/Sterling(29)…Lacazette/Aubameyang(26) sit right there among PL goal scoring duo’s.

  5. C,

    If we had our shooting boots on yesterday we could have put 5 or 6 in the net. We havent had a match like that yet this year. Like the 5-1, 6-1 we used to see against Everton every year. We put 4 past Fulham and 4 past Spuds.

    City has many high scoring games. In 5 matches mainly against chumps, they put 28 goals away

    6 (huddersfield)
    5 (cardiff)
    5 (burnley)
    6 (southampton)
    6 (chelsea)

    ————–
    Anyways, do we think the 4 at back formation continues?

    Did Mustafi actually play a good game? I think he did well but remember some instances early on in the match like Redman running clean thru our backline into acres of space… If we play that same game yesterday against a top side, they are probably 1-0 within a few minutes. As fate had it, they cocked up their few chances and pretty shortly after they were picking the ball out of their net.

    2nd half was brutal, at the 60 minute mark i started counting how long each passage of play was before another stoppage. It wasnt pretty, one or two minutes tops. However we held out, clean sheet too which is a rarity. Leno had to make a couple great saves, I remember one in the first half where the left winger really lined up a bullet , low hard . Leno made a great dive to keep it 1-1 (i think).

  6. thrillbo,

    Absolutely we could have and shoulf have scored more, with that said, we got 2 early goals and that was good enough. We have had a couple matches where we have scored 3 or 4, comparing us to Citeh(honestly comparing any team to Citeh including Liverpool) attacking wise simply doesn’t make sense mate. Think about the fact that Sane, Jesus and Mahrez are sitting on their bench, they can score goals and have scored a shit ton.

    I think Leno was superb yesterday and keeping the clean sheet. He possibly makes that save against a top, possibly he is picking it out of the back of net; we simply don’t know. I know all the focus is on Mustafi but who knows when Kos will have a Kos moment or Sokaritis gets over aggressive and gives away a stupid penalty. I’ll take the positive and say we kept a clean sheet and hopefully can get another against Bournemouth.

  7. C,

    Agree that City is in another league offensively. But still we are in this league to win and be the best so there is the benchmark!

  8. thrillbo,

    Very true but we have to build to that. Think with Lacazette and Aubameyang we have a base and the big thing is finding the right balance to continue to create the amount of opportunities for those 2 and others. That also seperates Citeh, they create chances a plenty by going for it and at times, we are set to defensively.

  9. Great post YW (gutted as I didn’t get to have the pint due to baby sitting my niece 20 mths!). Couldn’t care less about the Rugby. A sport for gentlemen they say! Give me football any day of the week.

    Agree with C’s comments on the game. Although I think if Redmond scores it changes the game completely. Leno doing his bit yesterday, showing we still have some defensive frailties but the keeper not being one of them.

    Lets see what we can do against Bournemouth before the real test on the weekend. I’d happily take a draw. At least that keeps us in the hunt still.

    Kepa is a disgrace and Sarri is on borrowed time.

  10. C,

    I can see that back four. It would need another injury for Jenks to be involved & Mustafi at full back might mean less chance of a ricket

  11. Great review Yogi

    If Emery can pull off a 4th place finish it will silence at least some of the critics. I think the first half of yesterdays game is an example of how he wants us to play with energy and high pressing. Both goals were the results of taking the ball away in dangerous positions. This is probably part of the reason for some of the personnel decisions he has made and why he loves Guendouzi. He needs players he can count on to give a sh*t and play with energy and commitment.

  12. Sokratis definitely improves the defence. He has a bit of Martin Keown about him: big; sticks a boot in; and deceptively quick.

    Leno made a couple of very good saves too.

  13. Yes. This may be sensible if Kolasinac is playing. Kolasinac does his attacking and Mustafi can hold his position to become part of a three in defence to cover the inevitable counter-attack. Southampton’s best chances came from getting into the space Kolasinac vacated to attack.

    C:
    What about Mustafi playing RB and we go with a back 4 of:

    Mustafi—Sokaritis—Kos—-Sead or Nacho

  14. Pete the Thirst,

    I feel like Sokratis is our most ‘no nonsense’ defender. He has been solid, if we forgive his little cameo against spuds when he got duped by Son for a stupid needless freekick that led to Eric Dire’s goal…

    Let me say it another way. If you lined up Kos/Mustafi/Sokratis and ran a drill. Hoof the ball behind them and have a striker chase it down. I would wager Sokratis handles it the best. Kos would be too aggressive and over commit letting his man in behind. Mustafi would probably just fall down out of nowhere, or try to get fancy and pass out instead of clearing. Sokratis would hoof it ball into row Z at first chance.

  15. C,

    I’ve suggested Mustafi as RB in the absence of Bellerin as a reasonable possibility as well. His defensive errors might not be quite as costly defending wider. He is at least as fast as Lichtsteiner and a good passer. He wouldn’t be as attacking an outlet as AMN but in a back 4 gives us more defensive strength. If Lichitie has a back issue, this may be worth a try v Bmouth ahead of Spurs away and help Emery decide whom is best suited to his plan and in form. On the other hand in a back 3, we may prefer AMN as RWB and he’s just coming back and may need some minutes to prepare for the weekend. Interesting issues to consider at that position.

    On the other side, maybe Monreal comes in but Kolasinac has one of his best matches v Soton that I can remember in an Arsenal short. His passing was far more secure and he created excellent attacking threats.

  16. Bill,

    And yet we had a stronger midfield base and balance with Xhaka and Torreira. They are a better platform but I think Guendouzi will come in for Torreira v Bmouth while Torreira will be saved for the NLD away.

    Ramsey’s pressing energy and combining with Laca was valuable. V Bmouth I think we’ll see a more open game so I expect Ozil and Auba to play with Xhaka and Guendouzi in midfield.

  17. I think Iwobi also had a superb game. He created an assist and some other chances in the box. He combined well with Kola. It is a shame he has to withdraw with some kind of muscle issue/knock. I hope he’s available v Spurs and would rest him v Bmouth. This means we might see Suarez making his first start. I have my doubts about him but in a more technical and open game he might be ok but I would prefer a Monreal behind him in that case. Spanish communication and a more stalwart defender.

  18. In that scenario, I would prefer AMN possibly on the right for some pace and running but Nacho is no slouch still on the overlap.

  19. I agree with all the praise her for Sokratis, a no-nonsense central defender who relishes the physical battle. V Bmouth I start him—but Sokratis to pair with whom? Kos seemed a little physically uncomfortable when he came on but he grew into it and looked fit in the second half to the end. I might still save him for the weekend. He and Mustafi never quite looked a balanced partnership. Does Mavro get a game or is this shuffling/rotating too much? I think so. I guess it will probably be Mustafi…

  20. Nice post yogi. I’ll say I did enjoy Kolasinac on the flank, his touches and link up drifting infield. We definitely miss such from Bellerin on the right. He’s been quite impressive in recent matches and may he continue and be healthy.

  21. If hasn’t been remarked how good Ozil was also. He often fiesn’t Seem to do so well coming off the bench but I thought he was excellent and just what we needed for managing the game in the second half. Inventive, speedy in decisions and moving the ball, combining with the front 3 and dribbling deep energetically to link and transition the ball. He looked skillful and energetic after a more workmanlike return to the side v Bate. If I were Emery, I would praise him for the performance, for the attitude, for helping the team off the bench and give him a start v Bmouth. Then on the basis of that decide the team v Spurs. Normally I’d say Ramsey s better fit for the derby but starting Ozil and praising his attitude off the bench may get him in the right frame to contribute if needed from the bench in the NLD. There could be a beneficial solution for Arsenal for the remainder of the season if player and coach work toward that now and build on the move by Emery to include him recently. I think getting more involvement from Ozil could really help us in the run in to get top 4 and progress in the Europa League.

  22. I like the idea of Mustafi on the right.

    He has good moments as a CB, but every now and then seems to lose track of his positioning.

    I recall one particular moment when they were attacking up our right (he was still playing CB at that point), we had Lichtensteiner covering the player coming in at the corner of our 18 yard box, and luckily Sokratis had come across to cover because Mustafi was just standing way out of position, and too deep.

    You could see he suddenly twigged he was in the wrong place, but seemed unaware of how to resolve the problem.

    I’d never really seen him quite so obviously lost before, but it was rather troubling, was it a lack of concentration or did he just not know what he was supposed to do at that point?

    I can’t say I have the answer.

    I’m a little twixt and between on Iwobi. I think he tries too many tricks and slows things down too much.

    There is definitely a place for beating your man with dribbling, but he does it way too often to be effective, a simple pass and move is more effective 9 times out of 10 because the ball moves faster over the pitch when passed than when a player is trying to be clever.

  23. LSG,

    I think Mustafi has the ability to play there and actually think he offers a differenr sort of threat attacking wise at RB to AMN but can be equally as effective. Defensively it could most certainly work not just because of the cover behind him but his aggressive style would allow him to press higher without us suffering collectivelyas a team. His passing is an obvious plus.

    If we went with a back 3 and not wanting to risk AMN, I’d be interested to see how Jenks might do.

  24. Now that Sead is fully fit and getting a run of matches, he is really starting to show the form that had him voted best LB in the Bundesliga prior to us grabbing him on a free. Attacking wise and his engine we all knew were there(evidence by him even in the 85′ charging down the flank) but defensively there has been improvement for sure.

  25. MikeSA,

    Well it is something we need in the team because no one else seems capable of carrying the ball. And there isn’t always sufficient movement ahead to pass through the defensive pressure. But that is the area he can improve somewhat—Iwobi actually plays more quickly and mixes up the pass and dribble better with better technical players surrounding him. Some of his brief combinations with Ozil, the master at this, were wonderful.

  26. C,

    Credit where credit is due. I criticize him on occasion and regretted the size of the contract but he has quality and qualities we may need and he played very well off the bench. That is progress. Forward!

  27. Lichsteiner had a very solid game. Too bad he picked up that knock. Iwobi was very impressive and constantly caused problems for the defence. And Ozil’s play was refreshing: his touches and through passes were sublime and reminded us just what he can produce when he wants to. Also thought the Chuckle Bros had a couple of “moments” – like Mustafi lunging in on a tackle and giving up a free kick but no card. I don’t think it is a brain fart thing with him, more that he has poor instincts and tends to panic.
    I found the second half frustrating with the missed chances and allowing the Saints more of the play. One had the feeling that a Southampton goal (always possible with Arsenal) would have turned the match on its ear. Nevertheless, it was a good win and with a clean sheet.
    I would expect Suarez to feature/start against the Cherries. If he doesn’t, then why was brought in and is he this year’s Kim Kjallstrom (probably spelled wrongly)?

  28. MikeSA: I’m a little twixt and between on Iwobi. I think he tries too many tricks and slows things down too much.

    Iwobi is more impressive when moving at pace. When he starts dribbling he’s easier to defend against.

  29. MikeSA,

    Though I do think that Iwobi dribbling does slow moves down sometimes, I think he is being encouraged to do his dribbling, as our possession play is often too slow for it to matter, and then by dragging a player or two towards him that can dislodge the buses.
    It does mean that if he gets isolated and dispossessed, then the oppo get a ball easily moved on the counter… which is our Achilles.
    Needs to learn better when to quit the dribble and smash it at the defenders when getting cornered.
    But the 9 out of 10 thing is not quite us at the moment I think.
    Still not seen the game mind. Lifeguarding at my 7 yr olds birthday swim party yesterday. Perfect hangover cure.

  30. LSG,

    Absolutely. I would imagine that he and Aubameyang start against Bournemouth and depending on that, the NLD lineup will be decided.

    Or, I’m wondering if Emery will continue on, especially with Rennes the Thursday after, playing Lacazette, Mhkitaryan and Iwobi and using Ozil and Aubameyang to be the driving force behind our Europa League run.

  31. C,

    I think it makes sense at least for the next period of fixtures since Laca is out for the full Rennes tie. Depending on what happens and hopefully in the quarters, he might reshuffle.

  32. If results go our way, by Saturday afternoon, we could be one point behind Spurs, wouldn’t that be just great to see their smug faces brought down a peg or two, would love to see Man Utd take fourth behind us and Spurs starting their new season in their new ground with EL football on Thursdays. Remember the advert, the only place to watch CL football in London, so fitting

  33. I’m still not sure about Iwobi.

    He’s certainly improved but once he gets in & around the penalty area something happens & he becomes indecisive or less confident. This usually ends up with him taking a safe option & the chance goes begging.

    It could just be an age / experience thing that he will emerge from. If that’s the case we will have real player on our hands. If not , he’ll always flatter to deceive.

  34. Paulie Walnuts,

    Couldn’t agree more….he does all the legwork-gets into a threatening position…and you think…’shoot boy-have a go!!’……sideways pass 😆😆😆

  35. LSG,

    I tend to agree but if I had my choice, I would prefer we see Xhaka play opposite of Ozil because of the influences they have.

    Another thing that will be interesting to watch it who starts at the pivots. Will it be Xhaka/Torriera or Elneny/Guendouzi or some sort of combination? I would imagine that Xhaka/Torriera gets the nod in the NLD and against Manure which means Guendouzi/Elneny against Rennes in the firat leg with Ozil ahead of them. Interesting choices with Emery talking rotation.

    I think Suarez will need to show his worth. The one thing Gooners might need to come to grips with is that Suarez is more of the link Spanish type player who is good at linking up play (but works a bit harder defensively) and keeping things ticking. I wonder if Emery uses him behind Mhkitaryan.

  36. Iwobi is the new Gervinho, prove me wrong. Doesnt it look like Gervinho out there? Have to praise Iwobi though, good hard working and that flank was pretty solid thanks to his cover. We dont really have any other ‘dribbling threats’ so Iwobi does have a job. He was whipping in some crosses with his left and at least making a nuisance of himself. I think we need to give Iwobi another year or two. If he doesnt sort out the yips and become a consistent threat, gotta move on from him.

    just watched the chelski video here at work, my my what was that! That is up there with wenger getting crucified while standing on top of the dugout at manure.

  37. LSG,

    I would normally say that too but there is no way that Torriera can physically play Spuds, Rennes, Manure, Renne in what amounts to about 14 days. I would possibly say, if Bellerin was fit, Maitland-Niles next to Guendouzi but I imagine Elneny will play and then get subbed off.

  38. If you remember what Cazorla did when he was healthy its clearly dribbling is still a highly valuable and influential skill. A player who can beat a defender with the ball at his feet creates mismatches and can open up a defense. In our last FA cup win Ox destroyed Man City in the semifinal because no one could defend him when he was running down the right wing.

    I am not a big fan of Iwobe and I hope we buy someone better but he is the best player on the team with ball at his feet and he is currently the best option for the 3rd forward.

  39. If Emery’s objective is play a high energy pressing style then having Xhaka and Ozil in the central midfield is not going to be optimal. Even Arsene recognized the defensive issue that having them as 2/3 of our central midfield caused.

  40. Jonnygunner,

    I’ll divert your attention to the first post of the thread, which is the only (to coin your phrase 🙂 ) fair metric on an international website that spans all time zones and allow you time to retract your comment and claim

  41. Anyone taking my bait on the Iwobi == Gervinho argument? Iwobi has youth on his side i think Gervinho was upper 20s closer to 30. Both work hard in D, can dribble, something just isnt clicking in when they get close to goal. Still Iwobi made some good crosses and stuff. You just want him to capitalize more.

  42. thrillbo:
    No takers?? Guess it’s because my argument is flawless. C I know you are lurking.

    My recollections of Gervinho are of a player with great dribbling skills that usually broke down around goal, also that he scored a few goals but overall wasn’t a great finisher. I guess that does sound like Iwobi. The latter, having moved the play well, frequently loses it, passes it off in traffic or takes a wild shot, often from a poor angle. I seem to recall Girvinho at least getting a few more goals. No?

    thrillbo,

  43. 2 former Arsenal youth are making an impression at different levels. Glen Kamara who wasn’t quite good enough but has certainly become quite a player in the Scottish PL. He wqs at Dundee and flourished before a change in manager and being dropped; now with Gerrard’s Rangers and again showing his worth as a DM.

    Mavididi left for Juve and now fully adapted is scoring goals and making a impact for their U23’s with talk of a potential first team debut with Juve running away with the Serie A.

  44. thrillbo,

    I was but I think the biggest difference between the 2 is that Gervinho simply didn’t adapt fully to the PL while Iwobi has but is a CM. Iwobi has everything you want in a CM pivot if he can develop defensively but if not, he is a really good winger when confident and hopefully, with more confidence, can calm keep a cool head when it matters most.

    Sometimes you see the potential whether its goals or assists, other times you scratch your head as to why it doesn’t all come together.

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