Southampton 1-1 Arsenal
Barclays Premier League Matchday 16
St. Mary’s Stadium, Southampton
That was poor.
Like last week vs. United.
Like the Stoke away game earlier this season.
Like numerous games last season. Or the season before that. Or several seasons before that.
Yes, we did well to get a point in the end.
But the performance overall was without guile, penetration, and intelligence.
If neutrals wonder why Gooners moan a lot, it’s due to rubbish like this.
Mertesacker started in the back three, but he and the other defenders contributed to a bad defensive error, leading to Austin’s goal.
We had some chances, such as Lacazette driving over from eight yards. Kolasinac also had a decent run just after the Soton goal, which was well shielded by their defence.
However, we did look to go forward, but were contained to the eighteen yard box. We lacked the penetration and pressure to break through.
This was more of the same, though Soton had some good chances on the counter-attack. We did also, since Ramsey, Ozil, and Wilshere all had good chances to score.
Our equaliser though came from a chip in by Alexis (who warrants a special mention in this piece), with Giroud to nod in from close range.
We had got a point in the end, but only via some poor approach play, and a lack of invention.
This game, like United last week, typified the woes of contemporary Arsenal. At least Arsenal in the last five or more years:
- Lacking attacking creativity
Our possession stats were far higher than Soton’s. This was mainly due to counter-attacking, but lacking incisiveness in the final third. We did not utilise the width of Kolasinac nor Bellerin, and were restricting ourselves to square passes in front of a packed Southampton defence.
- Bad finishing
When we did get into good positions, we did not take our chances readily. We scuffed shots, or over-complicated simple finishes. Lacazette and Bellerin were guilty of this in the first-half, and in the second half it was also the same pattern.
- Same old Arsenal
How often have we had performances like this? This season? Last season? Since the 08/09 season? It seems like it. It seems as if we’re being punished for something, like we’re stuck in a loop or some twilight zone. Every season, nay game now, follows a distinct pattern. It could be a poor mentality. Or bad defending. Or bad tactics. Or like today, a combination of these factors.
Giroud’s goal possibly made it a fair result, though I’m thinking “what if”. If we showed a similar level of intensity to the Spurs and United games (even though we lost the latter), we would have won this game. Soton didn’t play badly, but I genuinely believe we permitted them to play well. Arsenal overall is a mismanaged football club, in many areas and facets. And without a “catalyst for change” (sorry for making you all cringe…..) we’ll see more of these performances.
- Alexis Sanchez
I love Alexis. In terms of his passion, technique, goals, and work rate, he is one of the best players I’ve ever seen at our club. However, today was his worst performance I’ve noted from him. He usually gives the ball away a lot. Nonetheless, today he did so to our genuine cost and looked disinterested, dispirited, and generally not giving a damn.
He DID get the assist. So that ameliorates this somewhat. Though he needs to buck up, and pronto. Is he edging for a move, and doesn’t care anymore? Possibly. Even still, either Wenger needs to speak with him, or he needs to be professional and improve.
To sum this game up then, it was “same old Arsenal”. We lacked the impetus, invention, creativity, and attacking verve to break Soton down. They had a clear game plan, which was boosted by our defensive error. However, going down after 2 minutes meant we had to get back in it, and we could have won it had we been more clinical and inventive in the final third. Player ratings are below:
- Cech – 7.
- Per – 4.
- Kos – 7.
- Monreal – 7.
- Kolasinac – 5.
- Bellerin – 4.
- Ramsey – 6.
- Xhaka – 5.
- Ozil – 7.
- Alexis – 2.
- Lacazette – 5.
- Giroud – 6.
- Wilshere – 6.
- Welbeck – 5.
Man of the match – Ozil.
He was not outstanding, but at least was trying to make things happen.