February 25, 2019

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Arsenal 2-0 Southampton: Dominant Gunners move back into top four

Henrikh Mkhitaryan has been instantly concerned in every of Arsenal’s four Premier League objectives in opposition to Southampton this season – three objectives and one help

Arsenal punished struggling Southampton with two first-half objectives to move back into the top four of the Premier League.

The Gunners led when Alexandre Lacazette reacted quickest to show in Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s shot, with the Saints’ claims for offside proving futile.

And they doubled their lead shortly after when Mkhitaryan drilled a shot into the underside nook.

Arsenal ought to have scored extra in a dominant first half, however in the end it mattered little as these objectives have been sufficient to move Unai Emery’s aspect above Manchester United, who drew at dwelling to Liverpool.

Saints, who missed good probabilities via Nathan Redmond and Matt Targett earlier than every of Arsenal’s objectives, supplied extra resistance after the break.

But they continue to be within the backside three, a degree adrift of fourth-bottom Cardiff, after failing to win for a fourth successive league sport.

Do Arsenal must be extra ruthless to safe top-four end?

Arsenal have struggled for consistency underneath Emery within the second half of the season, alternating between wins and defeats in every of their 10 earlier matches earlier than Southampton’s go to.

In fact, something aside from a house win in opposition to the Saints seemed unlikely. However, Emery could also be involved together with his aspect’s lack of ability to demolish their lowly opponents.

The Gunners seemed potent each time they burst ahead, significantly within the first half, and within the closing phases, in opposition to a Southampton aspect which seemed fragile on the back.

Lacazette was allowed the house to show within the opener, with the guests’ defence unorganised and too involved about interesting for offside, for his 13th purpose of the season.

After Mkhitaryan doubled the lead, the France striker ought to have added one other however by some means scooped over the bar from a number of yards out.

Arsenal’s dominance was illustrated by the 11 photographs which they tried within the first half, 9 of which got here from contained in the Saints space.

After the break they failed to say themselves similarly, till Pierre-Emerick’s Aubameyang’s introduction as a late substitute stretched the guests once more.

The Gabon striker was unable so as to add to his 18 objectives for the season, tamely side-footing at Saints keeper Angus Gunn from shut vary and seeing one other effort blocked by Jannik Vestergaard’s sliding problem.

Ultimately, they nonetheless had sufficient to see off Southampton, however are more likely to must be sharper within the last third if they’re to remain forward of United and Chelsea to safe a return to the Champions League subsequent season.

That can also be significantly pertinent as, regardless of holding a uncommon clear sheet, they nonetheless wanted keeper Bernd Leno to be alert to forestall Southampton discovering a foothold within the sport.

Defensive errors value Saints

Saints supervisor Ralph Hasenhuttl introduced his arrival within the Premier League when his new aspect brought on an upset by ending the Gunners’ 22-match unbeaten run in December’s reverse fixture.

But momentum has stalled underneath the Austrian in current weeks, with Saints’ lack of ability to take victory in opposition to Crystal Palace, Burnley or Cardiff City proving significantly damning.

Those three fixtures – which included dwelling video games in opposition to Palace and Cardiff – had been earmarked by Saints followers as ones the place they wanted to build up factors to assist their bid in avoiding the drop.

Yet solely two factors from that run proved disappointing and heaped on extra strain for the journey to the Emirates.

Hasenhuttl determined to play Redmond in a lone putting function and that just about paid dividends early on when the previous England Under-21 worldwide used his tempo to race away from the Arsenal defence.

However, Redmond couldn’t beat Leno – who stood as much as block together with his chest – and Arsenal punished them via Lacazette a matter of seconds later.

It was an analogous story with the Gunners’ second purpose, Targett seeing a low angled drive pushed clear by Leno earlier than the house aspect doubled their lead via Mkhitaryan shortly after.

Both objectives have been preventable – with a few defenders reacting too slowly for the primary and a miscued backpass from Jack Stephens punished for the second.

Hasenhuttl reacted by introducing two strikers on the break – Charlie Austin and Michael Obafemi – and taking off Stephens, altering form to shore up the guests defensively.

Saints supplied extra attacking menace, with James Ward-Prowse and Austin going shut, however in the end they might not discover a breakthough to fret Arsenal.

Now they flip their consideration to Wednesday’s crunch relegation battle in opposition to second-bottom Fulham – the place defeat will depart both aspect even deeper in hassle.

‘The good factor is we did not collapse’ – post-match response

Arsenal supervisor Unai Emery: “I feel we deserved to win. We obtained the probabilities, we performed very nicely and I feel we will do extra [to make a] distinction to the consequence within the last 20 minutes of the primary half.

“The second half was possibly an under-performance from the primary, however I feel additionally we deserved one other purpose.

“It’s tough to maintain the depth for 90 minutes, within the second half we continued with discovering attacking moments and creating probabilities. The most essential is the three factors at dwelling with our supporters.

“We are considering it is a good step and it is sport by sport. Now we’re blissful, we’re in the mean time on this place and we stock on.”

Southampton supervisor Ralph Hasenhuttl: “The key second was the possibility for 1-Zero after which they [Arsenal] have been up. They have been a lot better and performed quite simple and we had issues to defend, which is why we switched and adjusted the form.

“We had a number of probabilities however Arsenal additionally did too. If you’re 2-0 right here then its straightforward for Arsenal. The good factor is we did not collapse in the present day. We did not, however we deserved to lose in the present day.

“For us each sport is huge. The subsequent weeks are very powerful for us and in opposition to Fulham we have to have a win and get better very nicely now for Wednesday and do all the things to win this sport.”

What’s subsequent?

Both groups are back in Premier League motion at 19:45 GMT on Wednesday.

Arsenal host 10th-placed Bournemouth as they goal to earn an eighth-straight dwelling win within the Premier League.

Saints, in the meantime, face second-bottom Fulham in a crunch relegation battle.

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