Like so many times this season, Arsenal have shown two characteristics that make every Gunner in the world frustrated – 1) proness to individual errors and 2) inability to put two consecutive excellent displays in space of three days. Granted, fixture congestion at this time of the year doesn’t exactly encourage consistency but any team that wants to fight for the trophies needs squad depth in order to avoid losing points.
Southampton aren’t exactly top side in the Premiership but they can cause problems to every team in the league. Even when they were way more fragile (for God sake, Gervinho scored TWICE against them in reverse fixture!), they gave a good scare to both Manchester clubs but in both occasions they lost with the same score-line (2:3). Unfortunately, there is a huge gap between Manchester clubs and Arsenal at this very moment and that gap is getting bigger and bigger every day. In 2010-11 we ended 12 points behind United but it was mostly because of our horrible performance in the spring-time. At the end of 2011-12 both clubs had been 19 points ahead of us. Now, United are already 18 points ahead of us with a game in hand despite the fact we have played only 20 matches so far and we have only one defeat more than United. With our problems with consistency, the final gap might be at least 25 points.
In one of the least eventful matches of our season, we failed to stretch our streak of victories to five games. We didn’t roduce too much in the game before The Saints took the lead thanks to a poor clearance from Bacary Sagna and poor defending from our whole defense except Sczszesny, who had his vision blocked. Gaston Ramirez scored after a streak of mistakes of our defenders, but the initial mistake came from Podolski whose pass to Vermaelen started whole mess. Sczszesny had his hand on Ramirez’ ball but it still went in. We replied pretty soon. Walcott – who played against his former club – took a free-kick from the left side of the attack. He made a successful cross to the near post, a cross that made Gonzalo Do Prado put the ball into his own net. It was 4 minutes before half-time. It should be said that we failed to make a single shot on target in the first half.
The second half was even worse. Do Prado nearly returned the advantage to the Saints but Sczszesny made a great save. The hosts had another chance after the following corner but Sczszesny prevented Sagna from scoring a second own goal of the night. Walcott had a decent shot from 20 yards from the right but he ought had to go at least one more step into the box.
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Ramirez scored his second goal of the night with nice first-touch but he made a foul on Koscielny during build-up of the goal. Our best opportunity was perhaps long shot from the Arteta, who fired a left foot shot from 30 yards. Puncheon was the most active player in the second half – he made Sczszesny make decent save with his second shot ending on side-netting.
Substitutes Giroud, Gervinho and Ramsey failed to produce anything when they went in so the game ended 1:1. A disappointing draw and performance in which we had less shots on and off target combined than we had scored against Newcastle on Saturday, but it could had been worse.
on the result…
Considering our performance I don’t think we deserved more today. It is two points dropped if you look at the target we set ourselves over Christmas. It is frustrating and disappointing because we did not create a lot and if you considered we scored five at Reading and seven against Newcastle. When you sum up the goal chances there is not a lot. We lacked purpose, penetration and speed. All qualities we have usually but lacked tonight.
on the reasons for the performance…
It is frustrating. It is nothing to with the physical. Maybe we thought we scored seven against Newcastle and we’d score seven today. It was a game of magnitude today against a highly motivated Southampton side but I thought [our problem] was more mental than physical.
We prepared normally and prepared well. Maybe Southampton deserve some credit as well. They fought for every ball, they were on their toes but they just did not have quite enough quality to take advantage of it
It is difficult to identify any specific thing. We have to sit down and analyse that together. We have big games coming up and we want to get back to our normal performance. FA Cup is out next game so we want to win it. We will lose Gervinho now so the squad is getting shorter.
on signing Thierry Henry…
At the moment we are not on that case. But I will be active [in the January window] yes. We are looking everywhere. We are open-minded. We want to strengthen the squad everywhere.
on Theo Walcott…
It is hard to single out anyone. Nobody was put in good conditions to express anything decent offensively.
Sagna Koscielny Vermaelen (c) Gibbs
Wojciech Szczesny | 7.0: Could do very little or nothing when the hosts scored. Gave a solid performance.
Bacary Sagna | 5.0: It’s time for Jenkinson to step in. Sagna has been poor recently and it could be that he suffers because of unresolved contract talks. His performance in attack wasn’t good, his crosses were poor. His clearance led to the goal we conceded.
Laurent Koscielny | 5.5: He must do better than he did tonight.
Thomas Vermaelen | 6.0: Was one of the players that created a mess in front of their own goal. We still miss his goals and ability to make his troops thirsty.
Kieran Gibbs |6.0: Didn’t link up with Podolski properly. Too bad he messed up when we could have scored a second in the last minutes of the game.
Mikel Arteta | 7.0: He was only midfielder that actually did anything concrete. His long shot was our best chance in the second half.
Santi Cazorla| 6.0: Quiet game. It’s unclear why Wenger replaced him with Ramsey instead of Rosicky. We need Santi in form in order to make any result this season.
Jack Wilshere |6.0: He can do better.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain | 5.5: The Ox wasn’t at his best against his former club.
Theo Walcott | 6.5: He got his mark mostly thanks to assist for our solitary goal.
Lukas Podolski | 4.0: He can’t put in two good performances in a row.
Olivier Giroud | 5.0: Poor cameo for the Frenchman as he couldn’t repeat impact he made on Saturday.
Gervinho | 5.0: Had a few attempts, one was actually looking promising. His decisions are still like the ones of headless chicken.
Aaron Ramsey | 5.5: He didn’t use his chance properly. Rosicky should be the player to replace Cazorla.
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