The learning curve continued for Saints as they were on the end of a heavy defeat at the Emirates.
Nigel Adkins’ men continued to show the Barclays Premier League that they are not afraid to take teams on as they scored the first goal against the Gunners this season, but they were made to rue a first half glut of strikes for the hosts which made life even harder for Saints on their first ever visit to Arsenal's new stadium.
A brace of own goals sandwiched a stunning free-kick from Lukas Podolski and a powerful finish from Gervinho as the hosts went 4-0 up on the visitors inside 40 minutes, but Danny Fox’s first goal for the club gave Saints some hope going into the second half.
The introductions of both Maya Yoshida and Gaston Ramirez for their debuts lifted the visitors who looked the more likely to add to their tally before they were cruelly beaten for a fifth and then a sixth time late on, as Adkins’ side continue to acclimatise to life back in the top flight.
For Arsenal, the victory maintained their unbeaten run of home league matches Saints against which now stands at 18 games since a 1-0 defeat in November 1987.
Arsenal: Szczesny, Gibbs, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Jenkinson, Arteta, Chamberlain, Coquelin (Ramsey 68), Cazorla, Gervinho (Walcott 74), Podolski (Giroud 74). Subs (not used): Mannone, Koscielny, Santos, Ashavin.
Saints: K. Davis, Clyne, Fonte, Hooiveld (Yoshida 28), Fox, Ward-Prowse, Schneiderlin, S. Davis (Ramírez, 46), Lallana, Puncheon, Lambert (Rodriguez 75). Subs (not used): Gazzaniga, Richardson, Mayuka, Chaplow.
Referee: Kevin Friend
There were no changes to the Saints side which started against Manchester United, but late transfer window additions, Gaston Ramirez, Maya Yoshida and Emmanuel Mayuka were all included amongst the substitutes.
Alex Chamberlain started for the hosts with fellow ex Saints Theo Walcott on the Arsenal bench.
The visitors in their changed strip of yellow and blue got the match underway on a warm and bright afternoon, backed by a vociferous travelling support to the right of Kelvin Davis’s goal inside the Emirates Stadium.
An early foray forward from Nigel Adkins’ men saw James Ward-Prowse try and take aim inside the area, but his effort was blocked.
Soon after, the hosts made their presence felt with giant striker Lukas Podoloski unleashing a powerful shot from range which Davis saved, before Chamberlain picked out Santi Cazorla inside the area, but the midfielder skied his shot over the bar.
Unfortunately those warning signs weren’t heeded and on 11 minutes Arsenal took the lead. Podolski’s strength saw him force his way through the Saints backline to find Kieran Gibbs on the left side of the area.
The full back who had made a darting run into the box, struck a low shot which went under Kelvin Davis and cruelly bounced off Jos HOOIVELD’s leg into the back of the net.
Saints weathered the initial storm after the goal as Arsene Wenger’s men looked to pounce again with Gervinho looking to cause problems on the right hand side, but Danny Fox was equal to the threat.
Kelvin Davis was called into action again though on 20 minutes as he held on under pressure to keep out Per Mertesacker’s header inside the area after the towering German defender connected with Francis Coquelin’s chipped cross.
Adkins’ men refused to panic after Arsenal had poured forward once more. Steven Davis and Nathaniel Clyne each sought to prize open a resilient Gunners midfield from the back as Saints played with a patient approach.
The visitors were forced into a change on 28 minutes when Hooiveld who was feeling his calf before he came off was replaced by new signing Maya Yoshida, who had returned from representing Japan earlier in the week.
On 31 Arsenal won a free-kick when Steven Davis was harshly adjudged to have fouled a Gunners man 25 yards from goal.
PODOLSKI stepped up to bend home a stunning set piece effort from a central position which Kelvin Davis could do nothing about as the hosts doubled their lead.
It was 3-0 after 35 minutes when Mikel Arteta’s gloriously lofted pass down the right flank was dispatched at the near post by GERVINHO who found the back of the net with a firm low strike into the bottom corner.
With barely time for a breather, Saints had their second dose of bad luck when Gibbs’ cross into the area from the left fortuitously flew in past Davis off Nathaniel CLYNE for the second own goal of the game, leaving the visitors with a mountain to climb before the break.
Mertesacker headed over the bar in another chance for the hosts, but Saints ended the half well, and after applying the pressure, pulled a goal back on the stroke of half time.
Puncheon’s deep cross to the far post dropped kindly off Rickie Lambert and into the path of FOX who kept his nerve to volley home inside the area to reduce the deficit at the interval.
Saints left the field to a chorus of ‘Yellows, Yellows’ as Adkins’ men gave themselves a glimmer of hope for a comeback in the second 45.
Half Time: Arsenal 4-1 Saints
Record signing Gaston Ramirez was introduced for Steven Davis at the start of the new half as Saints sought to cause their opponents some more problems, with some added height in attack.
The move almost paid dividends early on with the Uruguayan getting his shot off after linking with Lambert on the edge of the area, but Szczesny was equal to the curled effort from the edge of the area.
Saints certainly started the half more composed than they had looked during spells of the first 45 and on 57 they almost struck again when Ramirez’s cross was seized upon by Lambert on the far side of the area, but the striker’s first time effort sliced agonisingly wide of the left post.
The visitors continued to push forward as they instilled belief that they could go on and find another goal as Fox and Clyne tried to force the issue on either flank.
A noticeable drop in the atmosphere from the home support suggested that Saints had rattled their opponents, before Puncheon blazed over on the back of some more neat build up from Adkins’ side.
On 68 Arsenal replaced Coquelin with Aaron Ramsey, but the home side continued to look content with what they had as Saints outplayed them through the middle of the park.
A chance break led by Ramsey who outfoxed Clyne to strike a shot against the post, fell all too perfectly for GERVINHO to tap home an undeserved fifth strike and end once and for all hopes of a comeback.
The hosts followed up the goal with a double substitution with former Saint Theo Walcott and Frenchman Olivier Giroud brought on in place of goal scorers Gervinho and Podolski.
Adkins followed suit with his final change with quarter of an hour to play as Jay Rodriguez replaced Lambert through the middle up front.
The chances for the visitors dried up however, which was made worse when substitute WALCOTT found the back of the net at the other end with two minutes remaining as he curled home a neat finish, but to his credit, didn’t celebrate the goal against his former club.
Full Time: Arsenal 6-1 Saints