A goal and an assist from young talent Bukayo Saka helped Arsenal to a 3-1 victory, sending the Saints into the bottom half of the table for the first time since the start of the season.
Southampton were forced into a makeshift defense. Both regular full-backs missed out, with Ryan Bertrand serving a suspension and Kyle Walker-Peters a quad injury. This meant that youngsters Yan Valery and Jake Vokins filled in at right and left back respectively.
Key players Jannik Vesteegard, Oriol Romeu, and Moussa Djenepo all remain sidelined, but Nathan Redmond was fit enough to return to the bench. Ralph Hasenhuttl opted for Che Adams and Danny Ings to lead the line for the 2nd consecutive game.
Lively start at St Mary’s:
The game started with a flurry of early goals and chances.
Arsenal, keen to avoid being beaten by the Saints for a second game running, started the brighter side and with only 45 seconds on the clock Granit Xhaka played Alexandre Lacazette through on goal. The Frenchman’s eventual shot was well saved by Alex McCarthy. An early let off for the Saints and in particular Jan Bednarek who had inexplicably given the ball away to Xhaka.
Only a few minutes later and it was the Saints who took the lead. Stuart Armstrong expertly dispatched a powerful half-volley into the back of the net after a cleverly worked James Ward-Prowse corner.
However, the Saints lead did not last long. A cultured finish from Nikolas Pepe, after Granit Xhaka had picked him out inside the Saints penalty area, saw Arsenal level it at 1-1 before the game had even reached the 10 minute mark.
Arsenal play Saints at their own game:
It was evident from the off that Arsenal were keen to try and match the intensity, high-press, and energy that Southampton are now well-known for playing with. This led to an entertaining first half in which plenty of chances were being created for both sides.
With the game finely poised, it was clear that the next goal would be crucial.
And it was the Gunners that took it. Our man of the matchBukayo Saka showed good pace and agility to take the ball around the onrushing Saints keeper Alex McCarthy, before slotting in to an empty net.
Arsenal went into the half-time break a goal to the good.
Arsenal see out comfortable win:
The second half wasn’t nearly the spectacle the first was.
A depleted Saints side found it hard to breakdown an organised Arsenal defense as they pushed for an equalizer. Even after bringing on a trio of Dan N’Lundulu, Nathan Redmond and academy prospect Caleb Watts, Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side couldn’t find a way past the Gunners.
Arsenal secured the 3 points 15 minutes from time as Alexandre Lacazette fired home from close range after good build up play from Cedric Soares and Bukayo Saka.
The loss means Southampton are now in the bottom half of the table for the first time since the start of the Premier League season. Their next game sees them face Aston Villa on Saturday night.
Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl conceded that his sides performance wasn’t good enough but was keen to get across that a recent blip in form wasn’t a huge cause for concern:
“The quality wasn’t good enough to be competitive against this team”
“We know that we are a good team if everything is perfect and we are in a good shape.”
FT: SOUTHAMPTON 1-3 Arsenal (Armstrong 3′) (Pepe 8′, Saka 39′, Lacazette 72′)
Southampton: McCarthy, Valery, Bednarek, Stephens, Vokins (Redmond 67′), Armstrong, Diallo, Ward-Prowse, Walcott (Watts 74′) (booked), Ings (N’Lundulu 74′), Adams. Unused Subs: Forster, Long, Ferry Ramsay, Lewis, Chauke, Jankewitz.
Arsenal: Leno, Bellerin (booked), Holding, Luiz, Soares, Partey (Elneny 78′), Xhaka, Pepe (booked) (Willock 90+2), Saka, Smith-Rowe (Willian 72′), Lacazette. Unused subs: Gabriel, Maitland-Niles, Martenelli, Nketiah, Chambers, Ryan.
Wessex Scene Man of the Match: Bukayo Saka (Arsenal).
Referee: Kevin Friend.