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Arsenal eked out a hard-fought much-needed win against an opponent they have always struggled against in Southampton on Saturday evening.
Santi Cazorla converted from the spot after Laurent Koscielny had leveled out a Petr Cech own goal.
Here are O-Posts’ five major talking points from the Gunners’ second victory of the 2016/17 Premier League campaign.
Impact of Francis Coquelin
Francis Coquelin was a surprise inclusion in the starting line-up as he started ahead of Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny.
However, he justified Arsene Wenger’s selection by pulling off a performance without which Arsenal may have ended up not claiming maximum points.
Often criticized for his lack of attacking contribution, at Emirates Stadium on Saturday, his passing was exceptional as he superbly linked the defence with the attack for a player whose primary duty was to disrupt the Saints’ build up.
The French midfielder has often been labeled as one dimensional, but with Arsenal resting their most lethal attacking weapons, his service was decisive as he, in addition to being a menace in the midfield, was essentially being a third centre-back, often cutting out dangers in Cech’s box.
Reliability of Team B
With the Tuesday’s trip to Paris Saint-Germain in mind, the Arsenal manager dropped Alexis Sanchez, Granit Xhaka, and Olivier Giroud although the aforementioned trio’s fatigue from their last week’s international games also played a major role.
However, the second string proved on Saturday that they could win games for the club.
Impact of Santi Cazorla
Mesut Ozil was not at his best on Saturday evening as most of his flicks did not come off as he would have wanted; his first touch was often heavier than that of Gervinho or Yaya Sanogo.
With Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain working the wings, there was little creativity emanating from either flank. The fact that Coquelin was never a regista did not help matters either.
Thankfully, Wenger had Cazorla at his disposal. The Spaniard orchestrated the midfield, stabilizing the buildup when the other attacking players were losing possession rather frequently.
He upped his game further in the second half, and his converting from the spot in the dying minutes — despite the Saints’ antics — highlighted the composure he brings to the team.
Unimpressive debut from Lucas Perez
Lucas Perez was largely invisible in his first start for the club, but the Spaniard can hardly be blamed as Arsenal’s playing style did not seem to suit him.
The wingers playing as though he was a target man – they were often setting him up for a tap in whilst he only excels at making runs behind the back four – stopped him from being a threat in the penalty area.
However, with Xhaka and an in-form Ozil playing behind him, he can be a more threatening figure.
Impact of Laurent Koscielny
Captain Koscielny triggered the comeback with a fantastic overhead kick, but the goal was never his most important contribution.
The grit on his visage seemed sufficient to goad the rest of the squad to run the extra mile as, at times, he came across the reincarnation of Tony Adams although he was never half as vocal as the England legend.
Should he continue to produce similar performances, he should usurp Per Mertesacker to become Arsenal’s first-choice skipper.
Written by Praveen Paramasivam
Follow Praveen on Twitter @49Praveen
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