Yesterday’s League Cup fixture at the Emirates was quite a shocker, and despite the fact that we rested several star players it was tough to digest that we were beaten 2-1. Especially after Sanchez’s magical early goal, it seemed impossible we could lose. But when full time came around, Southampton were the ones who were celebrating and Arsenal had been dumped out of the League Cup yet again. This trophy has never been won by Arsene Wenger and now he has to wait another year to try.
In analysing our loss to the Saints, here are some facts and figures. They show certain areas that we need to improve in and make for some rather interesting reading.
Possession: Arsenal had the lions’ share of the ball, especially in the second half. Most of that half was spent in trying to break down the resolute Southampton defence and our players resorted to increasingly desperate and complicated passing as full time approached. But Southampton weren’t exactly shy either; the Saints had a possession figure of 43% for the game, a respectable figure. We had 57%, but like Wenger said, it doesn’t matter how much possession you have unless you are able to convert it into goals.
Shots Attempted: Here is where the differences between the two teams become clearly visible, for all their possession, Arsenal managed only seven shots on target to the Saints’ 11. Most of our possession was in the midfield, and since our midfielders weren’t able to provide the killer balls, the strikers suffered.
Shots on Target: While Southampton were able to squeeze off more shots, both teams managed the same number of shots on target, 5. This shows that Arsenal took their shots better, but were still unable to convert them.
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Fouls: Arsenal committed 13; Southampton 14. Like Wenger said, Southampton took full advantage of heavy tackling in the centre of the field. But this made no real difference to the outcome of the game, as both teams did not resort to vicious fouls. The Saints picked up 4 yellows, and Arsenal 2.
Corners: Arsenal had three corners to Southampton’s four. This further shows that Southampton were the stronger team in attack, and Arsenal failed to capitalise on their chances.
Some of our most senior players disappointed in the game; Lukas Podolski in particular was less than impressive. Though he played the whole 90 minutes, and was given space on both the wings as well as down the middle, he failed to properly slot into any role and looked out of sorts. This could of course be due to the fact that he is still recovering from an injury, but it was still a weak performance from the German. He had only one shot on target, and was hardly involved in the build up play.
As such, it is clearly visible that our playing XI were not up to the mark in yesterday’s game. Hopefully the players will find their form in time for the weekend fixture against the Spurs; a must win game for us.