Match Report: Arsenal 1-0 Southampton

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What a signing this man is turning out to be, a statue is surely imminent. The game, the first of many over this long period of football, was not the best, to be honest. As the Arsenal players walked out onto the pitch you could sense a feeling of anxiety across the whole of the ground and I think that reverberated onto the players – both of Southampton and Arsenal – and this made it into quite a drab and slow paced first half. One of the last things you would have expected from two very attack minded sides.

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The game started off with the rare occurrence of Arsenal attacking the North Bank end in the first half and Southampton playing in the direction of their own fans, but that seemed to be pretty irrelevant to most and it appears to be only me who found that strange so we will move on. Arsenal dominated the first ten minutes but not to great effect, a lot of the ball was being knocked around in the middle of the park to not much use and neither side could really gain a football. Martinez and Forster must have been getting very cold. After this very slow moving first ten, the game started to pick up slightly and both sides had chances. The first one fell to Danny Welbeck of Arsenal, Cazorla played it down the right hand channel in superb fashion – appearing to carry on his superb form from WBA away – Welbeck shrugged off Bertrand and wasted a good opportunity from a tough angle. He had to at least hit the target. The game appeared to gain a bit of life and the players were starting to get stuck in, eventually. Wanyama was penalised for what appeared to be quite a ‘clever’ foul on Cazorla as appeared to break, he wasn’t  booked. Then Koscienly went flying into Pelle which delighted not only the Arsenal faithful in the stands but also Koscienly’s centre half partner – Per Mertersacker who appeared to instruct his team mates to also get stuck in. Then the heart in mouth moment came. Pelle combined with Davis and Tadic to put himself through, Arsenal were let off, big time. As he was played in Martinez came rushing out and any confident striker, especially one which was in Pelle’s kind of form earlier on this season, would have just passed it in. Instead he snatched at it and sent it flying into the clock end. Those were the only two real big moments in the first half, if I am brutally honest. Slow was the best way of describing it.

The second half started with even more tension and almost anger in the air. It also started as the first had finished, pretty poor. Oxlade-Chamberlain was being given some joy down the right hand side and was giving Ryan Bertrand some issues. The second half did, however, come to life when Cazorla put in quite a nasty challenge on Tadic which forced him off with an injury, it did not look good for the Saints play maker who has been a scourge of so many sides this term. We hope he is ok. With this fiery encounter came your usual ‘handbags’ incident which seemed to fire up the crowd and then that reverberated onto the pitch. The game seemed to come to life, in a way. Ramsey picked up the ball from deep and played a one two with Welbeck which then resulted in Arsenal winning a corner which Southampton managed to very nearly score off a counter attack, give Flamini credit for breaking up that move. As we seemed to be growing as a team Arsene Wenger brought Giroud on for the Ox, the decision was not a popular one and it was met by boos which isn’t good to see. And then the ‘boo-boys’ were made to eat their extended vowel sounds when Giroud made us a lot more potent in attack. He linked the play well and gave Welbeck a chance which Forster some how managed to keep out. Then he had a lovely looping header which was also kept out, somehow. The tension in the ground was coming back again, until, we finally broke through the Saints barricade. Chambers crossed for Giroud who appeared to have his shot blocked by the hand of Fonte but Ramsey played to the whistle, picked up the ball, showed Bertrand who was boss and crossed it for Sanchez to tap home. Our two biggest players from the last 18 months, arguably, combining to give us the 3 points and send Southampton home empty handed.

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