Despite the fact that Arsenal have been playing better of late and the visitors Southampton have been showing signs that their Excellent early season form was falling away, Arsene Wenger would have known that his players would really have to be on their game to win.
And that became clear early on, after the Gunners started quickly. The Saints soon got right into the game and although Danny Welbeck had an early chance that he put wide, they soon had an even better one which Martinez was relieved to see fly over the bar.
They were pressing us hard in possession and using the ball well when they had it so we knew that we were in for a tough game. It was the 25th minute when we fashioned our next decent chance, with the Ox starting and finishing the move but shooting straight at Forster.
Cazorla was looking dangerous again and a lot of our best football was coming from him, so when Schneidelin’s replacement Jack Cork had to go off after a knock from Ramsey, it gave the Spanish maestro even more encouragement to get at the away team. But you could see why they had the best defence in the Premier League and the referee seemed happy to let them keep fouling to break up play.
Arsenal were finding it hard work and chances were hard to come by. Welbeck nearly caught Forster out with an inventive back heel and brought a good save with a header just before the break, but we were not making much use of his or anyone else’s pace. It was certainly a frustrated Arsenal when the halftime whistle blew.
Things were the same if not worse after the break, with Southampton beating us in almost every challenge and growing all time in confidence while our passing game was just not working. Cazorla completely ballooned our best chance of the first 15 minutes and it looked like Wenger would need to make a change sooner rather than later to get something going. Giroud was the man he went to with the Ox coming off.
The Frenchman had had an immediate impact, producing another left foot thunderbolt to test the keeper and then finding Welbeck with one of his trademark flicks, but Forster produced an amazing instinctive save to deny our new striker. With 20 minutes to go we finally looked like we could win and the Emirates crowd responded after being worried into silence for most of the night.
It turned into a contest between Arsenal pressure against Southamton defence and counter attack. Wenger replaced Welbeck with Podolski for the last 10 minutes, and then Southampton went down to 10 with an injury after using all their subs. But their keeper was worth two players and continued to do a De Gea on us, clawing out a Giroud header I thought was in.
It did not matter in the end, when Alexis finally beat him with a great assist from Ramsey after the ref missed a clear penalty shout for us. We should have doubled our lead a minute later but that man was on hand again to deny Ramsey.
It was not pretty but at the minute results are what we need. I’ll take the win and hope we play better at Stoke on Saturday.