After the shaky display at Old Trafford, Southampton was tipped by rivals to get something tangible out of their visit to North London. And surely why wouldn’t you? A team sitting third and coming into this game with also one of the best defenses in the league shouldn’t be written them off.
With the league table looking similar to the Snake and Ladder type of game, for Arsenal the equation was simple; win and extend the gap at the top.
The fifteen minutes postponement before kickoff in no way helped the anxious faithful- rivals wanted to see Arsenal play again, and had they slumped at home, they would have concluded they are not title contenders.
Southampton who are accustomed to pressing high up the pitch, had to respect the vibrant passing game of the home side and defend, or they risked getting exposed.
Jack Wilshere’s effort that slammed the woodwork shortly after kickoff illustrated the Gooner’s blood thirst for all 3 points.
They missed again and again, and again, and just when you thought another “again” was coming into the picture, Soton’s goalkeeper Boruc made a mess of himself to allow Giroud to score one of the easiest goal of his footbaling career – Arsenal were ahead.
Despite the avoidable blow to his side, Mauricio Pochettino rather calm nature was in full display again. Surely, he wouldn’t give credit to Boruc for conceding such a cheap goal- but he was aware of the uphill task to beat an in-form Arsenal.
Still, the visitors didn’t lose composure- they in fact had their moments in the first proceedings, and had Nathaniel Clyne avoided too many touches, combined with luck, a positive first half outcome was always inevitable.
With 20 minutes left in the second half, and the Gooners yet to extend their lead; Southampton grew more believe to securing a point, while the old Arsenal script was reminiscent amongst the Arsenal faithful and Arsene Wenger. Yes, the old Arsenal could have slumped to a draw or probably lose, so seeing Arsene pacing and worried in the touch-line was typical.
But they showed maturity to protect their lead and determined to extend it; however, Jose Fonte shirt pull on Merteshacker resulted in a penalty for Wenger’s men, Giroud made no mistake for a brace – 2-0 Arsenal it ended.
Afterwards, Wenger made a sarcastic reply when asked if he cautioned Szczesny to avoid a similar Boruc-error, he said “I told him to kick it to me on the bench.”
They barely played the superb Arsenal way in the next game, in fact allowed Soton into the game in the second half, but still resolute in gaining all three points somehow- title contenders I must remark.
Written by Femi Hilekaan
Follow Femi on Twitter @femi4arsenal
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