As I said in my preview, there is no way Arsenal fans can ever be confident going in to a game at St Marys against Southampton, it seemed like deja vu the Gunners were 1-0 down after just 2 minutes. Everyone was saying before the game that Charlie Austin was the man in form and so it proved as he received a lovely ball from Tadic in behind the Arsenal defence and poked it past Cech, although it was quite close to the big man and I thought he could have done better.
Just two minutes later Austin was one-on-one with Cech again, but our keeper managed to get the better of him that time, and just a few minutes later the Saints hit the post, through Austin again of course, and we could have been three down in just 7 minutes! Southampton were looking very confident and lively, as they always do against Arsenal, and they carried on taking the game to the Gunners.
It took until the half hour mark for Arsenal to get a promising shot in from Ramsey, but Forster was equal to it. Arsenal as usual have two thirds of the possession but Southampton are looking just as dangerous in the run up to half time, with Austin getting behind the defence again but Cech managed to beat him in the race for the ball. The Saints go into the break with a fully deserved lead.
So the second half began and it looked like Pelligrino has set his team up to frustrate Arsenal with totally crowding the defence with a 9-1 formation and the Gunners are camped in the Saints penalty area but rarely getting post the steadfast tactics. They managed to break out once after 12 minutes and a long shot from Redmond went straight to Cech.
As Southampton seemed to stopping Arsenal strikers they started getting a little more adventurous, and tried a couple of breakaways, one of which ended with Koscielny taking down Austin and was lucky to get away with it. At the midway point of the half Wenger saw that he had to try something new and took off the woefully slow Mertesacker and replaced him with Danny Welbeck as he is starting to get worried about getting through the Saints brick wall. Five minutes later we finally got the change that all Arsenal fans had been begging for, and Wilshere came on replace Xhaka, and 5 minutes later Giroud came on for Lacazette
They desperately needed to break though the bus with ten handbrakes on and with ten minutes to go Southampton still looked comfortable. Sanchez had a call for handball denied and immediately Southampton broke away again and Austin (yet again) got behind the defence but luckily he was just offside.
With 5 minutes to go, Alexis got a free kick at just the right distance, and although he hit it sweetly Forster had no trouble punching it away. The Pelligrino decided to slow things down and the goalscorer Charlie Austin was taken off to a standing ovation and was replaced by Manolo Gabbiadini.
But Arsenal finally got the breakthrough with the clock ticking down and a little lob from Sanchez was glanced off Giroud’s head and into the bottom corner of the net. Our supersub does it once again!
There were 4 minutes added for Arsenal to try for the winner but the bus was well and truly parked. Arsene Wenger has been moaning about Southampton’s time-wasting tactics all through the second half but yet again, St Marys has proved not to be a happy hunting ground for the Gunners…
At least we have gone one point ahead of Tottenham again….