I have just watched the match on TV and I was resolved to post a blog on the game when I sat down to write it and I saw Alex Baguzin`s preview. As usual he was pretty accurate in the make-up of the team and he identified the threats of the opposing team. Unfortunately he was correct that BFG would replace Mustafi who was injured and he opined that he would help to eliminate silly mistakes from our play. The game had barely started when our entire team bombed up field intending no doubt to hit Southampton with a sledgehammer to put them in their place and to blitzkrieg them into submission.
Unfortunately the Blitz halted when we lost possession and it was Southampton who landed the first blow. Our attack faltered when we gifted possession again and they were able to bypass the floundering BFG and allowed them another gift to go with the two to Man Utd. last week. Just as last week, we found ourselves a goal down before the sound of the starting whistle had faded. It would be normal to expect that we would learn from those mistakes, but unlike the Spurs match, there was no high pressing of their defence and we resorted to sideways and backwards passing again which has been the blight of our season.
The statistics on-screen showed that possession was 68% Southampton 32% us as they played the ball around in the acres of space we left in midfield. I found it hard to tell whether we were playing 2. 3 or 4 at the back as everyone was playing their own game. I managed to discern that Kolasinac was supposed to be a left wing-back although Xhaka was also playing the same role. Ramsey was invisible and he kept popping up in no particular position. Sanchez had brought his greed on the ball to new levels and simply refused to make passes to better placed players. The exception to the rule of playing to his role in the team was Ozil, who tried to carry out his usual conveyor belt of assists to players who had lost their sense of purpose or direction. Lacazette struggled manfully to get into dangerous positions but unfortunately no one was on his radar and he struggled alone.
Before I leave this part of my contribution, I have to say that as clearly evidenced on the replays, The scorer of Southampton`s goal was clearly 2 metres offside and yet again, in three successive matches we have suffered diabolical decisions from referees and this was another. The referees miserable performance was compounded when Lacazette admittedly missed a goal with a poorly hit shot but his legs were taken from under him by a two footed tackle after the ball had gone. Another stone wall penalty denied! Take away the offside goal and a legitimate penalty accompanied by the goal we did actually score and the result should have been 2-0 for us. It is getting beyond arguing the mantra that we should not blame the referee for our bad play. There is no doubt that we played badly, but how can any team which is not playing to its best counteract the incompetence of referees and linesmen?
It is time that their performances were properly assessed and that they should be held accountable for them. No team can overcome decisions which cost up to 9 points in three games! The top 6 is just too competitive to cope with that level of injustice.
I am happy that Jack Wilshire got a run out and that once more Giroud baled us out but it is clear that Xhaka is not good enough and he is becoming hot headed to compensate for mistakes he is making. The middle 3 CBs of Kos, Mustafi and Monreal should be maintained because when they are separated the flood gates open and we are punished. That formation should be drummed into Holding and Chambers, so that there is continuity and any player who fills the role should be comfortable in it. So now we are down to 6th again just when we were supposed to be running into a relatively easier part of the league. With Arsenal, we have learned to our cost that there is no such thing for us. Now, as always, we have to mount a last ditch charge to try to get into the top 4.