Southampton v Arsenal
Barclays Premier League
Kick off: January 28, 2014 7.45 PM BST
Arsenal missed their chance to go four points clear at the top of the table tonight, after their 2-2 draw with the Saints. With Southampton probably feeling like it’s two points dropped, Arsenal playing the final fifteen minutes with only ten men.
Arteta made his return for the Gunners, Jack Wilshere out with an ankle injury. But our Spanish captain looked a little off the pace today. Not surprising having only just returned from injury, but his presence was enforced due to our worrying lack of central midfield cover at the moment. If only there was some kind of January transfer window in which we could buy players to bolster our squad!
From the off Southampton looked the stronger side, pressing well off the ball and putting pressure on the Arsenal goal. Szczesny was called into action early on, Gallagher capitalizing on some poor Arsenal defending in the box. The Polish shot stopper screaming at his defence after palming the shot away.
Arsenal were unable to get any meaningful possession, and it looked like it was only a matter of time before the Saints broke though. Midway through the half Mertesacker was penalized for a perfectly timed challenge, which allowed Southampton to get bodies in the box. Shaw put a cross in towards the far post, and Fonte climbed over Monreal to head down and past Szczesny to make it 1-0.
Arsenal were lucky to keep the score at 1-0, when a poor Monreal clearance ricocheted into the path of Gallagher right in front of goal. He panicked though as Szczesny rushed out towards him, and put his shot wide when it seemed harder to miss than score.
Arsenal’s best (and only) chance of the first half came from a late corner. Özil whipped it in towards Mertesacker at the near post, who flicked it on towards Koscielny. The Frenchman reacted quickly to bundle a shot goalwards, but Boruc reacted just as quickly to keep it out. The half finished with Southampton still leading.
The start of the second half was a completely different story, the Gunners clearly getting an earful in the dressing room at half time. They came out looking aggressive and dominant, committing more men forward and looking to get back into the game.
With only a couple of minutes on the clock, Monreal and Cazorla linked up well down the left, the full back putting a cross into the box. Sagna picked up the heavy cross and drove into the Southampton area, he squared the ball to Giroud, who deftly placed the ball into the back of the net. Arsenal back on level terms. 1-1.
Arsenal looked like they were displaying the grit of true champions, when minutes later they scored again. Özil finding space in the box, and laying the ball off to Cazorla. The Spaniard lashed the ball towards goal with the outside of his foot, his shot always curling away from Boruc who had absolutely no chance. 2-1 Arsenal.
The Gunners appeared to switch off after taking the lead though, Sagna misjudging the flight of a long ball forward, allowing Jay Rodriguez to run in behind. He cut the ball back across goal, and it was met by Lallana who slotted it past Szczesny to bring the scores level once again. Arsenal’s defensive midfielders should really of tracked his run.
Özil almost gave the Gunners the lead again on the hour mark with an unbelievable run. His change of pace was unreal, ghosting past several players with Walcott like speed. He chipped Boruc skilfully and was terribly unlucky to be denied by the crossbar.
Monreal too had the chance to put Arsenal in front, but when through on goal he skewed his shot wide, instead of shooting across goal, or cutting back for a team mate.
Flamini was shown a red card in the 80th minute for a reckless two footed challenge which he had no reason to make. Putting his team mates in an extremely difficult position not only for the rest of this game, but for the three games that will cover his suspension.
Szczesny was called upon a couple of times to keep Arsenal in the game, but with ten men Arsenal were unable to commit men forward, and the game tailed off a bit. The whistle going after six minutes of extra time, the score remaining 2-2. Both teams may see this as two points dropped, Arsenal with the possibility of dropping into third after Chelsea and City play their games.
on the performance…
I think in the first half Southampton played very well and we didn’t play well. Southampton deserved the lead at half-time. In the second half I felt we played well, it was a very good football game. We have shown a lot of character and resilience to respond to what happened to us in the first half. Overall I would say it’s a difficult point but a fair one in a very good football game. I wouldn’t say it was a very very bad performance, I think it was a very good football game and Southampton deserved some credit. I felt we were a bit unlucky with the decision on the first goal, twice. First on Mertesacker, there was no foul, after there was a foul on Monreal and that was the moment where we were a bit unlucky. But I don’t complain on the quality of our game in the first half – it was not good enough. We had some problems to get into the pace of the game, in the second half it was much better but after when he had to push on for the third goal we were down to 10 men so we had a least to go home with a point.
on the nature of the title race making three points is a must…
You want the three points in every game but it is a difficult place Southampton when you look at our overall record it can happen that sometimes away from home you can take only one point.
on doing anything to stop tackles like Flamini’s one…
Look I will have to see it again. To me it looked harsh. He got the ball. At the some stage you have all the feet off the ground, when you want to run you need to put your feet off the ground. If you say that every time a guy who makes two-footed tackle it is a red card, he deserves a red card. If you say was it a violent tackle, I would say no because he played the ball. I don’t know, the referee made this decision and we have to cope with it.
on the frustration of Southampton’s immediate equaliser…
I think it was a misunderstanding between Sagna and Mertesacker on the long ball and maybe we switched off a bit because we thought we had made the most difficult.
on the first-half performance…
I don’t want to look for any excuses. We played in second gear and Southampton in the fourth. They played at a higher pace than us, they decided to stop us from playing, they did it very well but it’s difficult to maintain what they did for 90 minutes and during the season but they did it very well in the first half.
on Ramsey’s injury…
Aaron Ramsey is out for longer than we expected because he had a little setback in training yesterday. So I couldn’t bring him here. It’s the same muscle he did a bit again so we have to be cautious this time.
on whether losing Ramsey and Flamini is a huge blow…
Wilshere is not bad.
on playing the FA Cup game on a Sunday…
As planned we have to play the cup game on the Sunday.
on if he is disappointed with that…
I am not disappointed because it was planned. I told you we will play on Sunday so I cannot be disappointed because I knew already that we would play on Sunday. When you have two big games for the television. The first one is Man City against Chelsea, but on Tuesday night Man City plays against Barcelona so you knew they would go on Saturday. Thank you very much we go on Sunday.
on that week being season defining…
Well let’s focus on the next game, go home recover and play against Crystal Palace on Sunday.
Miyaichi played last night in the under-21s game at Chelsea. It was a cup game, we won 1-0 and Miyaichi played in that game, he did quite well and we qualified. He’s with us.
Here are some of the top tweets from today’s game:
“Holy Heartattacks Arsenal. STOP DOING STUPID THINGS!”
“Szczesny producing some great stuff to keep this at 2-2.”
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Sagna Mertesacker Koscielny Monreal
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