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Reaction: Southampton (H)

Arsenal swept Southampton away in a 6-1 win marked by their attacking brilliance and Southampton’s defensive blunders. In a rather one sided game, I will cover only the highlights since nearly everyone played well – bar you know who. This is also possibly the only time you’d see a team not parking the bus at the Emirates so enjoy the big scoreline.

 

Gervinho – A New False 9

Everyone was shocked with Gervinho being played in the ST position. Even in the starting line up TV graphics placed Podolski up front with Gervinho and Chamberlain by his side. Yet, the move paid off. The false 9 impact worked in our favor akin to the way Spain played most of its Euro 2012 matches without a known figure up front.

Gervinho - False 9 potential

Gervinho – False 9 potential

Gervinho was allowed to roam free. He drifted in from all directions and linked up really well. This is the best performance I’ve ever seen from a player better known for his forehead than his output.

 

This is the best performance I’ve ever seen from a player better known for his forehead than his output.

 

It is a good thing though, Podolski is cementing the AML position really well. I don’t see Gervinho being higher up on the pecking order than Poldi for that. However, the ST position is up for grabs. Most people felt that Theo would make a good false 9 but it was handed to Gervinho first and he grabbed it with both hands.

 

Arteta – A True Midfield Maestro

When Diaby was playing, Arteta played closest to the defense making him our defensive midfielder. With DIaby rested and Le Coq around, Coquelin played in that DM role with Arteta shifting forward. Not only did Mikel link up superbly with Cazorla, he had an assist and continued to be solid in defense.

Arteta - Consistently brilliant

Arteta – Consistently brilliant

Arteta is a player you wished we had for a long time. So much maturity, intelligence and versatility. Focus and consistency is his best attribute. If he stays on for a long period and retires here. He will be a legend of two clubs and well respected in the league (if not already).

 

Szczesny – Complacent

I didn’t like the fact that Szczensy simply walked into the team when he returned to injury. Mannone had been playing well between the posts for both games keeping clean sheets. He also did really well against an aggressive Liverpool in the second half at Anfield. Yet, Szczesny was offered a spot in the starting line up immediately and his complacency showed. The goal we conceded should never have happened, you could see how disappointed the defenders were with him when it occurred. I believe our clean sheet record for the start of the season is now Arsenal’s best ever but we could have extended it to four games.

In an interview, Szczesny mentioned that his “biggest problem is not enough focus in the games without huge stakes. I can’t find the spark in myself.” This is a huge worrying sign. Unlike strikers who can live off moments of brilliance, goalkeepers have to keep utmost concentration even in matches that are easy. That is what seperates legends from just good ‘keepers.

 

When you manage a team, you want to keep everyone on their toes. It’s a fine balance between making people feel valued but also motivating them to push themselves.

 

When you manage a team, you want to keep everyone on their toes. It’s a fine balance between making people feel valued but also motivating them to push themselves. Handing Szczesny an immediate return was a mistake on AW’s part.

 

Cazorla – Man of the Match

I’ve never given Cazorla a MOM because I’ve always considered all round performances more important than just attacking brilliance. But with a game like that, Cazorla stood head and shoulders above his peers by creating 6 chances and completing an insane number of key passes.

Cazorla - Vision and precision

Cazorla – Vision and precision

The little Spaniard is fast becoming Arsenal’s best signing for the past few years. His quick feet and quick thinking has caused his team mates to benefit much from him. On top of that, he is humble and friendly as the Arsenal camp proclaims.

 

Podolski – Solid Effort, Beautiful Freekick

Podolski is a workhorse. He seems to never run out of energy. Quick in attack, chases balls down and also tracks back a lot. To cap off his work rate, he scored a complete beauty of a freekick. It has been a long time since I’ve seen a free kick scored by the Gunners and his was simply satisfying.

Podolski - Can't contain his joy

Podolski – Can’t contain his joy

Podli also seems to be forming a great partnership with Santi. It is showing both on and off the pitch. Our two new signings may very well be foundation of Arsenal’s attacking play.

 

Other Mentions

Chamberlain and Walcott respectfully applauded the Southampton fans after the match. That is classy. Never forget where you were brought up and given your first break. Chamberlain worked very hard to impress but didn’t have a goal to show for it. You could see him really wanting that. Walcott took his chance on the rebound.

The pressure is growing on Giroud. I wished he started the game because goals were going to come for sure but in his loss, we found a possible false 9 and that is better for the team overall. You could see it on Giroud’s face that he desperately wants to break his scoring duck in the 15 minutes he had. Even his team mates were trying to get the ball to him when they themselves were in better positions. It’s good to see players in a team look after each other.

 

It’s good to see players in a team look after each other.

 

Southampton are technically good in offense. In parts of the second half, you could see why they nearly beat or drew with the Manchester clubs but their defense continues to be shambolic. They have a tough lesson to learn. A lesson that AW didn’t for 7 years. Defense first and then attack. Southampton did put Arsenal under pressure for good periods until the 5th goal was netted in Arsenal’s favour.

 

Conclusion

It was a solid victory and a very morale boosting one. The team has 3 difficult games in the coming 2 weeks. French champions, English champions and the current league leaders. If this team has any potential of title challengers, they have to prove themselves in the next 14 days. Drawing would be a minimum requirement.

 

Ratings

GK W. Szczesny 3 Clanger. Arrogant and complacent. Buck up or sit on the bench.
RB C. Jenkinson 7 Solid when called upon. Had more space to develop his attacking play today.
CB P. Mertesacker 7.5 Another rock solid performance. Could have netted one if not for a fine save.
CB T. Vermaelen 7.5 Business as usual. Learnt his lessons and adapted to his opponents quickly.
LB K. Gibbs 8 One of the reasons our left hand side has been so productive yet sound.
CM M. Arteta 8.5 He seems to be able to do no wrong ever since he signed.
CM L. Coquelin 7 Did well and warrantied his selection over Ramsey.
AM S. Cazorla 9 Man of the match. Got the entire attack ticking.
RF A. Chamberlain 7 Worked really hard and did well. Tried too hard to score.
CF Gervinho 8.5 Wonderful link up play. Took both goals well. A new striking option?
LF Podolski 8.5 Great freekick and trademark workrate.
SUB A. Ramsey 7.5 Excellent touch and assist for the 5th goal. Changed the second half for us.
SUB O. Giroud 6.5 Didn’t get the ball often and looked really desperate to score.
SUB T. Walcott 7 Made an easy chance count. Tore the tired Southampton defense with pace.
Dave Junia

Dave Junia | administrator

Analyst. Cyclist. Photographer

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