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A few thoughts on the Southampton match

December 6, 2014

Giroud and Gibb on bench, Oxo in the team, Monreal made the starting line up.

A very slow start to the game from both sides. Oxo had a good run at goal, but fell short once near the 18 yard line. Welbeck chance goes begging as instead of opening his body and taking chance with right foot into far corner, he goes for left foot and completely messed the chance up. Pelle then missed a great chance Southampton as Arsenal stopped to whinge about a throw on while Southampton got on with game.

A very good Arsenal move involving Sanchez-Cazorla-Welbeck set up Oxo who shot straight down Forster’s throat. Welbeck received the ball from Oxo, tried a cheeky back heel and should have got a corner, but then we all know what Arsenal corners make – don’t we? A rest for the opposition. Almost right on half time a Welbeck header came off Alderweireld and Forster was there again to tip the ball over the bar for yet another rest for Southampton.

Not a good half of football, very poor in fact and I was hoping for more, not in so much us winning, which would have been great but better football from both sides. Arsenal again wasted chances.

Second half started and followed the first as I wondered if either side wanted to win the game? Ramsey shot high, wide and not so handsome. Arsenal’s passing was not clicking and too many passes were not finding team mates. Cazorla had a turn in the high, wide and not so handsome stakes. Oxo went off as he was not having the best of games against his old club, Giroud came on to replace him. Giroud was set up by Sanchez, hit a scorcher right at Forster and with ball still alive Welbeck could not get his shot away but the ball ran to Cazorla whose shot was blocked. Better, the crowd found their voices.

Sanchez-Giroud flick to Welbeck who again found the out stretched hand of Forster instead of putting it out of his reach, Giroud tried to put loose ball in, but only got a corner and a chance for another Saints breather.

Podolski came to replace Welbeck, Saints went down to ten men as Alderweireld went off injured and saints had already used their three subs. Podolski crossed and I rose in slow motion as it looked like Giroud’s looping header was going into the net, but there was that nuisance Forster again to save.

Chambers crossed-Giroud touch-Fonte handball – PENALTY!!! Not given but the ball fell to Ramsey who turned it back in for Sanchez to break the deadlock and give Arsenal a deserved lead for their pressure right at the end of the game. Ramsey then had a shot saved by Forster and Podolski’s hammer left boot fired a shot right across the face of the goal. A couple of late shouts for penalties on Sanchez one given as corner the other free kick outside area.

Apparently Arsenal have had sixty-nine shots in the last three matches against Manchester United, West Bromwich Albion and Southampton and score three goals.

Final whistle goes. 1-0 to the Arsenal!!! Three points!!! That’ll do.

However, let’s not kid ourselves, this was not a good performance from Arsenal, more a job done. It was a “you have to win when not playing well situation”. A league season is thirty-eight games, over nine months and no matter how good-a-team you are, no team is going to play well in every game. In fact I doubt any top team reaches its peak for more than ten games in a season, where everything  goes just right and you win with ease playing great football. Another 15/20 games will be good. and 8/13 games will be bang average and you’ll lose some. Right now all of Arsenal’s matches this season fall into the last two categories, in fact most fall in the last category.

Martinez looked solid again. Monreal and Chambers both did well and it’s great to see the BFG and Kos back together. If Koscielny is not one of the top five best defenders in the world, then who beats him? A shout our too for Flamini who once again, sat there, did nothing special, but did his job.

Once again the midfield/attack is not still not firing so when they do get chances they are not clinical enough in front of goal and more often than not shoot straight at the keeper. The introduction of Giroud made a difference as the link up play suddenly started to work and passes were finding team mates.

It’s strange but in most games Arsenal have played this season, I find most players have had reasonable games with the odd really poor performance yet the players have not really played well as a team where the defence, midfield and forwards click and it always seems one element is not working, sometimes two and that’s where I feel the issue lies. Arsene loves the passing game  yet when that is not working between the three elements the football looks awful. When Giroud came on suddenly it started to click for twenty minutes.

However a wins-a-win and I’ll take the three points not playing well, all day, everyday, twice on Sunday and hopefully this mini run will be part of Arsenal coming back strong for the remainder of the season.

Now a trip to middle Earth to play the Stokies awaits and let’s face it they hate us big time after the Ramsey affair. I never really used to have an issue with Stoke as we had some great encounters with the in the past, going back to losing 5-0 at the Victoria ground in 1971, which may well have been the catalyst for Arsenal going on to the double. Great FA Cup semi-final battles as well. The last few years, more so under Pullis, Stoke played the long ball, get in their faces game and this worked a treat against Arsenal (at home) now I really dislike everything about that club. So much so that a win today would be one of my highlights of Arsenal’s season come May.

Happy days.

@harlowgooner

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