Not exactly an auspicious start to the New Year for the Gunners. This time last year, we were at the top of the table. This year, we lost to Southampton in emphatic manner, pushing us down to sixth and further away from our Champions League birthright. The 2-0 loss at St. Mary’s just on the eve of the transfer window is further proof, if any more were required, that we need fresh blood in the side and Wenger now has more pressure than ever to deliver.
The manager spoke to arsenal.com after the game and admitted that this loss was solely the teams’ fault and that it was a ‘self inflicted defeat’. Most of that blame will go to Szczesny, who had an absolute howler of a game with two major mistakes that both led to goals. Our defence was also questionable and considering that we had fielded our five best defenders, this is not a good sign for the team. The fact that we seemed to be in control until we conceded is just the icing on the sad cake.
This is what the manager had to say:
We put a lot of energy into the game and we were quite in control, but it is a self-inflicted defeat.
We were [dominant when Southampton scored], but we couldn’t take our chances. On top of that, we not only couldn’t take them but we gave them chances and that is too much at our level.
It is not the first time it has happened. We did not defend well enough in the final third, and we paid a heavy price for it today.
I am disappointed because there was at least a draw in the game, and if we were better defensively we could have won it. We have given a lot, I cannot fault the attitude of the team but we were again haunted by the ghost of what we seen since the start of the season.
There were several questionable things yesterday in team selection especially. Le Coq has been good over the past couple of games and Chambers is a bright prospect but they have barely any experience between them. Playing both in such a crucial away game seemed a bit risky, especially considering how dangerous Southampton are going forward. On top of that, it does not matter how good your defenders are if they cannot communicate effectively with the goalkeeper. The first goal in particular was absolutely shocking and displayed lack of communication as well as indecisiveness.
Also, maybe it is not the best idea to play Sanchez as a lone striker. He has distinguished himself by his workrate and his ability to track back when we lose possession in midfield. He could not do all this yesterday as he had to stay forward and it made a noticeable difference. Ultimately, the 2-0 scoreline was a bit harsh considering that we conceded due to mistakes, but with the League as competitive as it is, these results could make all the difference when the season ends.