Arsenal bounced back from back-to-back defeats to Manchester United and Everton with a crucial 3-0 victory over Southampton at the Emirates.
Arsenal took the lead thanks to goals from Alexandre Lacazette and Martin Odegaard in the first half, before Gabriel added a third goal early in the second half.
Mikel Arteta’s side got off to a shaky start, with Southampton regularly dispossessing Arsenal and pushing them back. The hosts were consistently sloppy in possession and paid no attention to the races. They lacked confidence and couldn’t get around the Saints’ high press.
The game, however, changed after 21 minutes.
A sweeping move that began with Aaron Ramsdale ended with Bukayo Saka squaring a ball for Lacazette, who scored on the first attempt. A delightful goal that was scored from the back to the front. Risk for the sake of profit.
Martin Odegaard’s header, his third in 3, doubled the home side’s lead just six minutes later. It was a scrappy goal, with Kierney eventually getting the ball out of his feet to dink a header in for Odegaard, who nodded home with his head as well.
Gabriel, who had already had one goal disallowed, rose highest to head home Gabriel Martinelli’s corner in the second half to put the game out of reach. Willy Caballero was fluttering his arms.
Arsenal’s crucial win over Southampton provided plenty of fodder for discussion. They’re right here.
1. Aubameyang’s Time is Coming to an End
Arsenal’s captain was left out of the matchday squad entirely due to a ‘disciplinary breach,’ which was later revealed to be due to him failing to return from a scheduled trip abroad on time.
This isn’t the first time the Arsenal captain has been absent from a game; in March, he was absent from Arsenal’s win over Tottenham due to a breach of pre-match protocol after arriving late. This is inexcusable behavior for a Premier League player, let alone an Arsenal captain.
Aubameyang is one of the best strikers on the planet when he’s in the mood, but those days are becoming increasingly rare. When he isn’t on the field, Arsenal is almost always better.
It’s a worrying trend with Aubameyang, and it needs to be resolved as soon as possible. For many, the Gabon international is coming to a close. While moving him on will be difficult given his high wages, it may be the best option for a young Arsenal team in desperate need of leadership rather than mediocre performances and a bad attitude.
Aubameyang’s time with Arsenal could be coming to an end, either sadly or fortunately.
2. Arteta Keeps the Faith With Same Starting Lineup
Mikel Arteta named the same lineup that lost 2-1 at Goodison Park to Everton. That can backfire occasionally, but Arteta was vindicated in his team selection today.
It adds to the team’s overall strangeness. The same group of players can be chalk and cheese just a few days apart.
Every Arsenal player did their job today when given the chance to make up for their mistakes against the Toffees. Lacazette was a constant threat with his closing down and energy throughout the 90 minutes, the midfield ticked over after a poor first 20 minutes, Odegaard pulled the strings as he continues to improve, and Gabriel Martinelli was a constant threat with his closing down and energy.
Arsenal moved up to fifth place in the table with the win, one point behind West Ham, who have a game in hand.
After the two-week horror show that was Manchester United and Everton, it was a much-needed performance. The Gunners overcame a sluggish start to put Southampton to the sword in a positive performance, all with the same team that produced whatever it was that Merseyside fans witnessed.
3. Gabriel Martinelli lookong like Alexis Sanchez
That’s obviously exaggerated, but he was truly brilliant.
Martinelli has started the last three games for Arsenal, after spending the first half of the season in the wilderness under Arteta. He has looked every bit the player he was before his knee injury.
Against the Saints, his speed, energy, direct running, and ability to close down opposing defenders for the duration of the game were all highlights. On his current form, it’s difficult to see him being demoted to the bench, but with Emile Smith Rowe on the way back, he’ll almost certainly be pushed out.
It wouldn’t be a loss if Smith Rowe returned, but it would be a loss if Martinelli was left out. He’s been playing in his preferred position for a while now and looks as sharp as ever.
He has earned his three starting spots and was unlucky not to score with a superb curling effort that cannoned off the post late in the second half.
Gabi appears to have returned.
4. Aaron Ramsdale is in World Class Form
Currently, a sizable number of Arsenal supporters are eating humble pie. Everyone is in a food coma from eating so much of it.
Ramsdale, who was mocked when he was first signed, has been nothing short of spectacular for the Gunners, and his passing range and shot-stopping took center stage against Southampton.
Martinelli would have already been nominated for assist of the season if he had converted that chance in the first half. That was a magnificent pass.
He is also largely responsible for Arsenal’s first goal. Ramsdale took on the responsibility of playing out from the back and taking on the pressure of Southampton’s forwards closing in on him in order to ping a ball to Takehiro Tomiyasu, and once Arsenal was out, Lacazette fired the ball into the net in a matter of seconds.
In the second half, he made several saves, which is a very encouraging aspect of his game, even if the majority were fairly routine.
His reaction to Arsenal’s first goal tells you all you need to know about him. He will have the No.1 shirt at this football club for years to come, sitting neatly alongside his England No. 1 shirt. Not just the best English goalkeeper, you’d be hard pressed to find many better across the world with the form he’s in.