The Saints may not have won a home game all season, but they definitely started in a lively fashion and went toe-to-toe with Arsenal right from kickoff. It was a strange line-up from Emery and it looked like we were going to have our usual slow start, and so it proved with Danny Ings putting the home side in front after just 20 minutes with a bullet header that left Leno stranded.
I thought that Arsenal would have upped their game after that but Ings carried on tormenting our makeshift defence and nearly doubled their lead two mins later. Southampton were easily the better side but against the run of play Mhkitaryan got his own header in the corner of the goal and we were back in the running. We did seem to go on top as well causing all sorts of problems, but as usual Arsenal’s defence leaves a gap and that man Ings was on hand to put another looping header over Leno who was just a spectator.
So we went into the second half behind yet again, and an injury to Bellerin persuaded Emery to go with four at the back and add Lacazette up front. The Saints came out running for the first five minutes to try and increase their lead but Arsenal gradually took control and after some calamity defending from the Saints, Mhkitaryan popped up again and his shot took a wicked deflection and suddenly we were level again, and on our second half form we should go on and win it now.
But they go down a gear instead and the game slows down, although with the Saints defending anything can happen! After ten minutes of nothing happening, Emery decides to unleash Ozil with 20 minutes to go and then Maitland-Niles replaced an injured Lichtsteiner and our defenders are dropping like flies.
It looked like disaster had struck just 5 minutes later, but thankfully Shane Long was offside and the celebrations didn’t last long. The game livened up and Aubameyang came close with a glancing header but Saints went straight down the other end. Both sides are pushing hard for the win in the closing stages with Arsenal having most of the possesion. Right now I think a draw is a fair result, but surely we always score the late goals?
I couldn’t have got it more wrong as suddenly the Saints break away and Long puts in a lovely cross to Charlie Austin at the far post and we concede yet another header and Arsenal have just 5 minutes to make amends. I’m not feeling very confident right now…
In fact it’s Southampton that are trying harder to score again, and Emery would have been happy to see 5 minutes added on, and is urging his team forward. To lose our unbeaten record to a team that hasn’t won a home game all season is a little bit discouraging, and losing two more defenders could make the coming schedule even more difficult.
A very limp day for us Gooners….