Saints undone at the Emirates

By SFC Media Sun 08 Apr Arsenal v Saints
Photo by Matt Watson | Pierre Emile Højbjerg
Sun 08 Apr 2.15PM
Premier League
Arsenal
3
Southampton
2
Aubameyang [28'] Welbeck [38' 81']
Long [17'] Austin [73']
Bellerín (50') Wilshere (90+2')
Hoedt (90+6')
Elneny (90+3')
Stephens (90+2')
Referee: Andre Marriner | Venue: Emirates Stadium | Attendance: 59,374

Arsène Wenger's Arsenal edged Sunday afternoon's fiesty five-goal thriller at the Emirates, with Danny Welbeck netting a brace, and Jack Stephens and Mohamed Elneny both suffering dismissals late on.

Arsenal's team selection, with seven changes, was perhaps suggestive of the fact they had one eye on their Europa League second-leg tie against CSKA Moscow next week, but their first-half intent implied otherwise.

A sluggish start gave Shane Long the perfect opportunity to give Shkodran Mustafi the slip, and Saints the lead, but strikes from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Welbeck gave the Gunners a narrow half-time lead.

Substitute Charlie Austin announced his arrival by giving the visitors hope with an equaliser, but Welbeck put the game beyond Mark Hughes's side, whose attentions now turn to a big home game with Chelsea next Saturday.

Arsenal began in typical free-flowing fashion, with Welbeck and Aubameyang trying to unsettle the Saints rearguard. Always on the shoulder, the forward pairing were creating constant uncertainty as they attempted to roam beyond undetected.

Saints, still precariously positioned in league standings, started comparatively well, with James Ward-Prowse latching on to Dušan Tadić's pull-back in the eighth minute, beating Petr Čech with a low shot, but not managing to evade the outstretched boot of Héctor Bellerín.

Long embarked in a race with Calum Chambers minutes later, which the Irishman won, shrugging off a tug of the shirt, before rolling the ball to an on-rushing Tadić, who couldn't collect in full stride.

But the pressure was indicative of Saints' productive start, and Long, returning to the starting XI, had the visitors ahead in the 17th minute. Cédric was the architect, his willingness to get forward the catalyst for a clever run from Long, who nipped in front of Mustafi and, with a deft touch, sent the ball beyond an incensed Čech.

Shane Long celebrates the opener at the Emirates

Saints consolidated thereafter, surrendering possession, yet keeping Arsenal at bay effectively enough. But the quality of the home side was to prevail in the 28th minute, creating something from nothing, as Aubameyang rounded off a characteristic Arsenal move to draw level.

A quick interchange between eventual match winner Welbeck and the Gabon international had Saints at odds, and, with McCarthy attempting to close the angle, Aubameyang was able to toe poke into the net – the striker on target for the sixth time since his big money move from Borussia Dortmund.

Sensing an opportunity to inflict further injury before half time, Granit Xhaka fired a free-kick narrowly over, before provider soon turned scorer, as Welbeck netted Arsenal's second of the afternoon.

Somewhat fortuitously, Maya Yoshida's interjection wrong-footed McCarthy in the 38th minute, as the England international's shot from the edge of the area looped off the defender and hit the net.

In the ascendancy, the home side finished the half with a flurry.

Chambers's shot was well blocked, and a series of corners well defended, but Saints entered the break a goal behind and with significant work to do.

James Ward-Prowse battles with Arsenal's Granit Xhaka

McCarthy was immediately called in to action after the restart, twice saving smartly from Aubameyang and Xhaka respectively, before Alex Iwobi also tested the stopper's resolve.

Riding the danger, it was then Saints' turn to attack, with Pierre-Emile Højbjerg going close, followed by a headed effort from Wesley Hoedt which required an intervention from Elneny on the goal line.

Presentable chances were suddenly forthcoming for the away side, as they searched for a route back into the game. Long's header caused Čech problems, before the striker had the ball in the back of the net, diverting in a Cédric strike, only for the linesman's flag to deny him with 25 minutes remaining.

Austin was introduced moments later, Saints still with the momentum, and the striker's immediate impact silenced the Emirates crowd. Continuing his near perfect record against the Gunners, Austin fired Saints level, turning in from close range in the 73rd minute, after superb build up play from Tadić and Cédric ended with the latter firing a low ball across the face into the path of Austin.

The visitors has ten minutes to find a winner, but instead, it was Welbeck who provided Arsenal with the telling touch. Arriving at the back post in the 81st minute, the 27-year-old tussled with his defender, before nodding home and restoring the home side's advantage.

Both sides were reduced to ten men as the game hit 90 minutes, Jack Stephens seeing a straight red card after reacting to Jack Wilshere ripping his shirt, as he held him back from advancing up the pitch.

Wilshere may have instigated the incident, but received only a yellow, although Elneny raised his hands to Cédric in the subsequent moments and was also dismissed by Andre Marriner.

Like Arsenal, Saints are still fighting on two fronts, and have an FA Cup semi-final to contend with at the end of the month, but for now, will be forced to accept another disappointing defeat in the Premier League.

Arsenal

Head to Head Stats

Southampton
  • Possession (%)
    65
    35
  • Shots
    13
    15
  • Shots on target
    7
    8
  • Corners
    8
    6
  • Passes Complete
    597
    266

Arsenal

33
Petr Cech (GK) (C)
20
Shkodran Mustafi
24
Héctor Bellerín
Rob Holding (74′)
21
Calum Chambers
31
Sead Kolasinac
61
Reiss Nelson
Jack Wilshere (64′)
23
Danny Welbeck
29
Granit Xhaka
17
Alex Iwobi
35
Mohamed Elneny
14
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Alexandre Lacazette (71′)
11
Mesut Özil
62
Eddie Nketiah
18
Nacho Monreal
10
Jack Wilshere
9
Alexandre Lacazette
54
Matt Macey
16
Rob Holding

Southampton

13
Alex McCarthy (GK)
5
Jack Stephens
6
Wesley Hoedt
3
Maya Yoshida
Charlie Austin (72′)
23
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg
21
Ryan Bertrand (C)
2
Cédric Soares
14
Oriol Romeu
16
James Ward-Prowse
7
Shane Long
Josh Sims (80′)
11
Dusan Tadic
22
Nathan Redmond
19
Sofiane Boufal
39
Josh Sims
44
Fraser Forster
26
Jérémy Pied
20
Manolo Gabbiadini
10
Charlie Austin
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