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Gritty as Gunners Take Three

It was off to Arsenal after the very enjoyable derby, the result, the “Pogbalessness” of it and Mourinho’s sadness made it all the more enjoyable. What we struggled to enjoy however was the first twenty minutes of the game against Southampton. Recall, Arsenal struggled to impose themselves during the second half of the match against Watford, and this seemed like a continuation of that effort.

The changes to the starting eleven seemed to have an effect on how we were playing as everything looked disjointed early on. The manager went back to his preferred pairing in defensive midfield at the start of last season as the “Coqzorla” returned. With new boys Perez and Mustafi also making their debuts there seemed to be a lot of confusion as to passes and understanding of runs being made.

Expectedly, in Arsenal like fashion a free kick awarded from what was purely a dive, hit the frame, bounced out of goal unto Cech’s back and into the net. Calamity always seems to find us. You would think the goal would awaken our dead spirits but the whole attitude to the game remained slow until about the 27th minute when a combination play between Ozil , Theo and Nacho almost produced a goal. From a corner however, El Capitan stepped up with a fantastic bicycle kick to make things level. Why we didn’t play with the intensity that led to the goal is anyone’s guess. Rest of the half pattered out with half chances for Perez, Ox and Theo but we went into the dressing with all things square

The second half started exactly how the first did. Drab. Not much happening aside Arsenal keeping a lot of possession. However, Ozil who was unusually quiet by his standards started to dominate and his combination with Perez almost led to a chance for the new boy. Frustration began to set in and the manager had to intervene which he did. Two substitutions in the 60th minute brought early sparks but no result as Arsenal continued their search for a winner.

In the 75th however, Sanchez expertly found Santi Cazorla who should have shot on goal but decided to pass to the onrushing Giroud. Classic Arsenal problem trying to do everything beautiful. The deeper problem, however, is why Santi decided to pass when he was in a scoring position. For all his majesty, Santi has struggled to replicate his goal scoring prowess from his first season at the club as his scoring contributions seem to be limited to penalties. Nine out of his last ten have come from them. Not that I am complaining, but it would help if he adds more from open play.

Another player who could do with more goal is Nacho Monreal. In the 80th minute he had a gracious chance to score from an Alex Iwobi pass but his shot was so awful the deflection from a Southampton player was more of a scoring chance. Nacho like most Arsenal full backs show up high up the pitch and will certainly get into positions to score, his shooting like Bellerin’s crossing needs a lot of work.

In the end, we had to leave Koscienly for dead while we chased a goal and thankfully the referee was courageous enough to award one for the shirt pull on Olivier Giroud. Step up Mesut Ozil to take it (hahaha), of course not, Santi Cazorla steps up and calmly slots it down the middle to give Arsenal the lead which we held till the end to give us all three points.

Like all things Arsenal, it had to be tough but in the end, we keep our three points as we continue of title-chasing ambitions.

My Man of The Match – Laurent Koscienly

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