Arsenal returned to Premier League action with a 2-1 win against Southampton at the Emirates on Saturday afternoon thanks to a wonder-goal from Laurent Koscielny.
Before kick-off, Arsene Wenger surprised many with his lineup. It wasn’t that he started the two new boys, Shkodran Muistafi and Lucas, or that Alexis was on the bench, but his decision to pair Santi Cazorla and Francis Coquelin at the base of the midfield.
In his defence, it is a pairing that has worked well in the past, but when you have Granit Xhaka available and Mohamed Elneny well rested, it seemed peculiar. Perhaps the benched duo are being kept safe for Paris.
It was a sloppy start from Arsenal, with Southampton dominating possession and Arsenal giving the ball away with regularity. It was like they were punishing us for being excited about football being back, bringing with it shiny new Arsenal players.
Our movement was non-existent and it’s hard to argue that the Saints didn’t deserve the lead when it came.
Their goal to open the scoring was hilarious in all the wrong ways. A soft-free kick came off the bar as Petr Cech seemed to forget how to fly through the air for a ball. It hit the bar only to rebound onto the back of Petr and into the net. It was almost the stereotypical Arsenal own-goal. We don’t do non-hilarious ones.
El gol en contra de Petr Cech. Southampton vence 0-1 al Arsenal en el Emirates. https://t.co/P4NY8iDghI
— Mr. Premier (@misterpremier) September 10, 2016
Only five teams have allowed more shots on target against than Arsenal so far this season – Hull, West Ham, Stoke, Burnley & Watford
— Orbinho (@Orbinho) September 10, 2016
Just when we were getting truly exasperated with the Arsenal players demonstrating just how exasperated they are, birthday boy Laurent Koscielny popped up with a moment of pure magic. Head tennis from a corner finally fell to the centreback and from his bag of birthday presents, he pulled out a spectacular overhead kick to level the game.
Suddenly Arsenal had arrived. Sort of.
They were certainly much better after the equaliser, but they found the Saints tough to break down and the half ended 1-1.
The second half took a while to get going, and if it wasn’t for Mesut Ozil having a bit of a stinker (perhaps he was the one who really needed a rest), Arsenal could have opened up a lead thanks to Santi Cazorla absolutely bossing it all over the park.
With an hour gone and the scores still level, Lucas’s quiet debut was over, as he and the Ox, poor again, were replaced by Alexis and
Big Sexy Oliver Giroud.
The game sat on a knife-edge with either side looking capable of stealing the points or blowing them. Shane Long, and then Alexis, both could, and perhaps should, have handed their side the lead within five minutes of each other.
Wenger’s last throw of the dice was to turn to Alex Iwobi, taking off Theo Walcott who was, well, Theo and a goal almost immediately followed. Two badly-timed slips, one from Alexis as he went for goal that caused the ball to fall perfectly for Giroud in front of an open net, and then another by Giroud himself as he went to strike it, meant we were all showing our exasperation faces once again.
78 minutes. One shot on target.
With seven remaining Southampton would have scored but for Cech’s double save when it seemed inevitable that we’d be going behind again. Shane Long, so often a pain in Arsenal’s arse, was instrumental once again and he was a real handful after he came on as a second-half sub.
Why can’t we cope with him? It’s Shane Long, ffs.
A minute later Santi ‘put one on a plate for Giroud’ according to the commentators, but in truth, it was a tricky header to pull off and the Frenchman did well to get it as close as he did. Had he scored, it would have rightly been hailed as an incredible header.
Five minutes left. One shot on target.
After being pretty woeful all afternoon, Bobby Madley, just as I was about to scream at him for ignoring Kos lying in the box holding his face as he let play go on, pointed to the spot for a foul on Giroud. The commentator was raging, saying it was 50/50, in what was just another of his unbelievable comments that didn’t seem based on reality at all.
Up stepped Santi, in injury time, and unlike every other Arsenal player in the squad, showed exactly how you take a spot kick. That he did it after having to wait while Kos had his face treated (he was kicked in the face). Should Southampton have had a freekick just moments earlier? Absolutely.
Do I care? Not in the slightest.
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