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Southampton 0-2 Arsenal – we won away! [With Player Ratings]

So’ton 0-2 Arsenal

Premier League Review – 25th June 2020

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After the collective pre-game trepidation, we won a game away. Yay!!

As our game was on Sky, there was an opportunity for more banter from the footballing world.

But we did what we needed to do – and forestalled any jibes and mockery.

Southampton had looked good in their game vs. Norwich, with Danny Ings scoring well and in the Golden Boot running.

However, we upstaged the Saints at St. Mary’s, and they didn’t look very “holy” at their own ground.

Overall, we:

  • Defended well

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Mustafi has been rightly maligned in his Arsenal career. But today, and for much of the season, I must state, he’s looked solid.

He gave away a foul for a booking in the first half but kept Ings under wraps. Sol Campbell was doing punditry on Sky, and it seems he channeled some of his defensive prowess into him.

Holding too was strong, and it was a well-earned clean sheet.

Bellerin had a steady game, as did Tierney who unfortunately left the field from injury. Hopefully, it’s nothing serious and he can resume soon.

Three thousand trees now have new life.

  • Pressed well

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Our first goal came from Eddie pressing their keeper and it paid off. We also denied them space in the midfield, with Xhaka, Ceballos and Saka getting their feet in when needed.,

Auba also harried their defence, and should really have scored early on when he ran clear and hit the bar.

The pressing also looked strong, and this allowed us to counter-attack well and expose their defence. They couldn’t really handle our pace, and this led to a sending off for them let on. Auba was clear on goal and was fouled, leading to Soton ending with ten men.

  • Got a fine goal via Nketiah

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Eddie did press well as stated, but his overall movement was pretty good.

Many have said his game looks quite Ian Wright (Wright Wright) -esque, and I can see why. Another comparison I feel is Sergio Aguero. I’m not saying he’s on the level of those players at all. But his movement and off and on the ball looked strong, and he fully warranted his goal.

  • Kept a clean sheet with Martinez

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Leno is our best keeper since Jens Lehmann, in my view. But Martinez looked strong. So’ton didn’t really create much, with the Shane Long chance arguably their best effort. However, I feel he made the save as required as it was hit right at him. All the same, he looked comfortable, held all balls carefully, and played from the back ably. It was a capable clean sheet and with Leno only being out for six weeks, he looks like a steady deputy.

  • Saw the City and Brighton plans done right?

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The game plan at City was to press and contain them, but their superior quality told. Brighton was similar, though we were freer to pass and move more, and like with Soton we took the lead. And Brighton though, we bottled it. We lacked the intelligence and game management to see out the lead and not cause stupid errors at the back.

Today was the City and Brighton games done right. City, perhaps, was a right off as we were always the underdog. But the Brighton defeat hit hard since we should have won bar losing our minds late on.

So’ton didn’t offer much in fairness, but neither did Brighton until they scored twice. The way we moved the ball though was fairly crisp, and if there is a criticism of our play it’s that we should have scored more.

  • Midfield balance

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Many teams this season have run through our midfield at will, but in this game, we seemed pretty much solid.

Xhaka pressed and closed down well, whilst Saka showed energy in getting forward and covering ground.

Ceballos held onto the ball well, and overall it did well to limit Southampton.

  • No Ozil/Guendouzi

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I like Guendouzi. Granted, he’s not everybody’s cup of tea. But I like him for his touch on the ball, and that he looks to drive from midfield. He can lose the ball often and he hot-headed, but thje best midfields in the current game are mobile and hard-working (Liverpool and City for instance) and Guendouzi is a player who in the future can help us attain this in the future.

Considering where he has come from – French Ligue Deux – to play well at Arsenal – shows he has a high ceiling.

Maybe he is being punished for the Maupay grappling incident. The FA didn’t punish him but the club may be doing such. I hope it’s not a long-term punishment and will be back for the Cup game and later league matches.

As for Ozil….we need to move beyond him. And I feel the midfield did well without him. We looked sharp, pressed, and progressed the ball well, and yes Mesut has a spark but we looked stable without his spark.

I can see Ozil featuring in future games – though seemingly our once record signing and current record wage-earner is not the taste du jour.

Player ratings

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Martinez  7

Bellerin 6

Mustafi 7

Holding 7

Tierney 7

Xhaka 6

Ceballos 6

Saka 8

Nketiah 8

Aubameyang 4

Pepe 4

Willock 7

Kolasinac 5

Lacazette 5

Maitland-Niles 5

Arteta 7 – Strong line-up, capable tactical display where we isolate Southampton’s back-line and denied them time and space on the ball. The City and Brighton games were blueprints in how we set up, and in some ways it was third time’s a charm. City is better, but we showed defensive resilience today that we lacked at Brighton. 

Man of the match

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Saka

Holding had a good game, and Sky Sports (our own legend “Smudger” Smith no less) named him as the man of the match. but for me, it was Saka. He took the game to Soton, and was insturmental in our counter-attacks and off the ball work.

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