Arsenal 6-1 Saints
Saints remain rock bottom and pointless four games into the Premier League campaign, following a 6-1 hammering at the hands of Arsenal. Nigel Adkinsí men were unable to cope with the swift attacking play from the Gunners.
The home side were on top from the word go, and it was evident very early on that Saints were going to be in for a long afternoon. Arsenal had a number of useful attacking outlets on show, but it was down the left flank that they did the most damage. Kieran Gibbs created the first goal. His cross-shot was bundled into the net by Jos Hooivled. The Dutch defenderís afternoon wouldnít get much better. He was soon forced off injured to be replaced by Japanese debutant Maya Yoshida.
Arsenalís pressing was first class. They hounded Saints whenever the ball fell to a yellow shirt. As a result the visitors rarely threatened going forward. Arsenal were much quicker in possession too. Saints attempted to go long, targeting Rickie Lambert, but had little joy in that area either. The pace of the game dropped slightly mid-way through the first half, but Arsenal were threatening going forward throughout. They made it 2-0 on 31 minutes through Lukas Podolski, who fired in a free-kick from 25 yards. The Gunners extended their lead four minutes later. Gervinho showed Yoshida a clean pair of heels before slotting in at the near post. It was 4-0 on 37 minutes when Gibbsí cross was deflected in by Nathaniel Clyne. Saints pulled one back on 41 minutes when Danny Fox volleyed in after Wojciech Szczesny had spilled a Jason Puncheon cross. That was one of the very rare occasions that the away side got even remotely close to the Arsenal goal. Saints did win a couple of corners before the break, but they came to nothing.
Adkins introduced Gaston Ramirez for the second half, with the Uruguayan making an instant impact. Ramirez was initially deployed just behind Lambert, but drifted about the pitch throughout, to suit the teamís needs. He dictated the play and helped Saints enjoy a good spell of possession during the first part of the second period. The former Bologna man even tracked back and helped out defensively at times too. He put in a cross for Lambert, who really should have done better with a clear shot from close range. A few more half chances arrived, but nothing clear cut was forthcoming.
Arsenal soon regained control, dominating the final 20 minutes. They made it 5-1 on 71 minutes when Gervinho tapped in after Aaron Ramseyís shot had smashed against the post. The Gunners constantly peppered the Southampton goal during the closing stages and eventually added a sixth goal. Theo Walcott found the net, but in a touch of class, refused to celebrate against his former club. Both Walcott and Alex Chamberlain applauded the travelling Saints fans at the final whistle.
A day to forget. Saints failed to match Arsenal in the way that they did the two Manchester clubs. In fact, the North London outfit were vastly superior in every department throughout. Some of the goals were slightly unfortunate, but thereís no question about Arsenalís dominance. Itís still early days, and although this defeat isnít easy to take, we were never expected to take anything from this one. There were a few positives, like the debut of Gaston Ramirez, who already looks a class above. The real test for Saints starts next week against Aston Villa. If we canít pick up results in those types of games then we should start worrying.
Arsenal: Szczesny, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Jenkinson, Gibbs, Arteta, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Cazorla, Coquelin, (Ramsey 67) Podolski (Giroud 74) Gervinho (Walcott 74)
Southampton: Davis, Clyne, Fonte, Hooiveld, (Yoshida 27) Fox, Schneiderlin, Ward-Prowse, Davis, (Ramirez 45) Puncheon, Lallana, Lambert (Rodriguez 75)