Southampton 1 Arsenal 1: Lessons learned as Saints make their point
Southampton 1 Arsenal 1: What lessons did we learn as Southampton climb out of the relegation zone in impressive style?
Saints prove they have what it takes to stay up
After a disappointing draw against Stoke last week, Southampton can count themselves unlucky not to take all three points against a very poor Arsenal. Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Santi Cazorla have been excellent over the last two weeks but, at a time when they needed to be consistent, they were largely absent. Despite this, Southampton deserve all the plaudits for an outstanding team display and were it not for another own goal, the home team were poised to take all three points. Gaston Ramirez broke the deadlock on 34 minutes as a sloppy Bacary Sagna clearance found Puncheon, who nudged it back to the Uruguayan to fire home from 15 yards. Southampton conceded yet another own goal as Walcott whipped a fierce free kick to the near post, and Guilherme do Prado’s outstretched leg diverted the ball past his own goalkeeper. The home team’s spirits were not dampened, however, and they drove forward in the second half and piled the pressure on Arsenal. Southampton were denied what would have been a stunning winner in the 71st minute when Ramirez controlled a delightful chip from Davis before turning and finishing coolly. The linesman’s flag went up for a soft foul and the goal was disallowed. Southampton will feel hard done by after Maya Yoshida’s first-half penalty claim was turned down but there were plenty of positives for the home team.
Arsenal feeling the post-holiday blues
Having smashed 15 goals in their last four league matches, Arsenal were extremely fortunate to get a point from today’s game with a helping hand from the home side. The visitors were off colour and their passing was shockingly bad. The main culprit was the usually reliable Bacary Sagna, who repeatedly failed to complete his passes today. His bad form coincided with ineffectual performances from both Cazorla and Jack Wilshere, both of whom failed to get a foothold in the game. The consequence of this was a lack of chances for Arsenal who were only able to muster one shot on target. Alan Smith perhaps summed it up best when he said that Arsenal lacked ‘teeth’. Indeed, if Arsenal are to challenge for a Champions League spot they cannot afford to lose ground against teams involved in the relegation scrap. Especially when main rivals Tottenham comfortably dispatched Reading and leapfrogged Chelsea into third place.
The Gunners run out of firepower
The Walcott transfer saga has dominated headlines over the past few weeks. Much has been made over his possible departure and it is clear that Arsenal need to retain the services of the ex-Southampton man. But, more than that Arsenal need to add more firepower up front as today’s game conclusively proved that he cannot do it all on his own. Walcott was unable to latch onto any of the dismal passes provided today and it was quite apparent that although he has improved by leaps and bounds, he doesn’t possess the strength and power to take the game by the scruff of the neck and drag his team over. An ideal solution would be Demba Ba, whose £7m release clause was triggered today. Not only is Ba a powerhouse of a forward, but he proved against Arsenal last week that he has a decisive touch, which is exactly what they lacked today.