Arsenal’s long unbeaten run came to an end on Sunday, with a disappointing defeat away to Southampton.
There were some mitigating circumstances to the defeat, with Laurent Koscielny playing his first game back, and every single other senior centre-back either injured or suspended.
Stephan Lichtsteiner and Granit Xhaka had to start the game as centre-backs before yet another injury to Hector Bellerin meant Lichtsteiner had to play at full-back. After Lichtsteiner was also forced off with injury, Arsenal ended the game with Ainsley Maitland-Niles at right-back.
Nonetheless, that’s no excuse for the way Arsenal’s defence threw the game away three times, despite Henrikh Mkhitaryan bringing the Gunners level twice.
Let’s have a look at our individual player ratings for the match.
1Goalkeeper and Centre-Backs
Bernd Leno 4
This was Leno’s worst game for Arsenal so far, unfortunately. There was nothing he could do about the first two goals, but he didn’t look commanding on a single cross all game, and Southampton made him pay in the end as he missed a punch and Charlie Austin scored the easiest header of his life.
The goalkeeper did make one fantastic save to deny Maya Yoshida, but in a game like this, it was a commanding presence Arsenal needed, not a shot-stopper. Unfortunately, Leno didn’t provide that presence, but let’s hope he learns from the experience.
Granit Xhaka 5.5
This was a tough one for Xhaka, as he first had to play as a centre-back in a back three, then a back four, despite having almost no experience of either position. In possession, he made 99 accurate passes, as the game still went through him despite his new position.
However, he did play one particularly poor pass to give Southampton the ball in a dangerous area in the first half (fortunately he wasn’t punished). There wasn’t much the midfielder could do about any of the goals.
Laurent Koscielny 4
It was Koscielny’s first Premier League game back, so we shouldn’t be too harsh on him, but all three goals Southampton scored were by players he was closest to. He didn’t get tight enough for the first two, particularly the second where he mistimed a header. Things can only get better as he continues his comeback.
Stephan Lichtsteiner 4.5
Lichtsteiner had a relatively poor first half. Again, you couldn’t really blame him for the goals, but in possession, he offered very little. His pass accuracy (78%) was over 10% lower than either of the other centre-backs. His crossing in the second half also didn’t provide much of a threat. Arsenal will hope Bellerin only picked up a knock.
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