We will soon know where Arsenal will sit in the grand scheme of the Premier League in three weeks time. This routine but necessary win is no more than an appetiser for the more significant main course that waits ahead.
Next up it’s Bournemouth at the Emirates on Wednesday evening which needs still needs to be won. Then it gets a little more serious with games against Spurs away and Manchester United at home.
At that point, Emery will know how far ahead or how far behind Arsenal are for the crucial run in for the 4th slot in the Premier League. However, they had to try and reverse the 3-2 defeat they suffered at the hands of Southampton last year on Sunday and nothing could be taken for granted.
Emery’s team selections are like sticking a pin in a catalogue or pulling names out of a hat in the dark whilst blindfolded, throwing up surprises that you hadn’t considered. Ozil’s name was missing again from the first team, along with Guendouzi, who has impressed over recent games.
Ramsey was drafted in, Kolasinac and Sokratis returned and Lichsteiner managed to do enough to convince his coach for another outing. Perhaps Ozil needs to learn what song to sing and how to sing it because the Swiss defender seems to be able to convince Emery to hum along to the worlds worst tune.
Such are his powers of persuasion, that even on the back of a handful of games which were stinkers, he claws his way back into the side. Yes, he did well against a Belarusian pub side and yesterday against a team destined to ply their trade in The Championship next season but against Spurs and United, his inclusion would be like offering a drowning man a drink.
Southampton knew the script, rough Arsenal up, press and chase, cut out space and wait for any mistakes to occur. That happened very early doors when Nathan Redmond received the ball and sped towards the Gunners goal.
The defence had to chase back but it was going to be a waste of time with just Leno to beat but Redmond made a hash of it by going out wider, taking an additional touch and not recognising the fact that he could have hoofed it across to an advancing teammate. Leno reacted and forced the player into his hasty decision and swallowed up the danger.
Directly after that Arsenal scored with a goal from the superb feet of Lacazette. He worked so hard, as he usually does, trying to make things happen and find space for himself and others and on any other day, he would have clocked up a hat trick. In the end, as the ball came to him in a congested box, he simply flicked out a heel to steer it into the back of the Saints net and ran off like a man impersonating a plane to celebrate with the fans.
Mkhitaryan, who has started to show signs of making a career at Arsenal, was involved in the Frenchman’s goal and not long after, the Armenian midfielder received the ball out on the right with acres of space at his disposal and his low shot found the net with minimal effort.
The eye-catching performance of the day was provided Sead Kolasinac who ran and ran all afternoon. He ran looking for the ball, he ran to prevent an opportunity and he ran in the opposite direction looking for one. He gave absolutely everything and although some may say his defensive qualities could do with a polish, his desire and intensity were top drawers.
No one was more responsible for the win and if Emery is looking for players with heart and character, Sead Kolasinac is his man. The second half saw Ralph Hasenhuttl change formation but he couldn’t change the score and the Saints are now locked in a battle with Cardiff to stay up. Arsenal’s battles are at the other end of the table and the outcome is just as unclear at this stage of the season but it it was down to Kolasinac, Lacazette and Guendouzi, the gunners would have already secured the 4th slot they need.
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