Arsenal went into this weekend’s game against the Saints looking to put back to back wins together for the first time this season and the Gunners duly obliged…just. The 2-1 victory was far from convincing and the Gunners will need to substantially improve their attack if they want to be in the mix for the Premier League title this season. The following are some key observations of Arsenal’s performance versus Southampton:
– Cech had a reasonable game despite conceding an unlucky goal that bounced in off his back after he tipped Tadic’s goal bound free kick onto the cross bar. His presence and some poor finishing thwarted Saints’ striker Shane Long on a number of occasions which allowed Arsenal to snatch the three points at the death.
– Bellerin struggled somewhat defensively with only 2 interception and no tackles. Offensively it wasn’t any better with no accurate crosses from his 5 attempts and no key passes.
– Mustafi put in a largely impressive performance with 3 tackles and 3 headers which is consistent with his per game career average. He only recorded one interception though which is a little lower than his per game average of 2.9.
– A majestic bicycle kick to level the scores covered up what was a slightly underwhelming defensive performance from the Frenchman who only recorded 1 tackle, 2 interception and 2 headers for the match, down on his per game career average of 2 tackles, 3 interceptions and 2 headers. His clearances (3) were also markedly down from his per game average of 10 for the season prior to the match.
– Monreal was back to his imperious best defensively versus the Saints with 3 tackles and 6 interceptions, up on his per game career average of 2 tackles and 2.5 interceptions. Offensively Monreal like Bellerin continues to struggle with 2 inaccurate attempted crosses his only offerings going forward.
– Coquelin was strong defensively with 3 tackles and 4 interceptions, up on his per game career average of 2 tackles and 2 interceptions. Offensively he struggled to contribute though and he failed to record a key pass.
– Cazorla was surprising effective at intercepting with 4 recorded interceptions for the match and unlike his performance versus Watford, Santi was back to his creative best with 3 key passes. An excellent showing.
– Ozil was back to his creative best too (4 key passes) following a quiet match versus Watford (1 key pass). Despite his creativity, Arsenal’s forwards’ poor shooting accuracy meant Ozil’s key passes weren’t capitalised on.
– Walcott’s least productive game of the season so far with none of his 3 attempts on goal hitting the target. The Englishman seemed the most willing of Arsenal’s forwards but his end product lacked the necessary accuracy to be effective.
– A similar story for the Ox on the left wing who recorded only 2 off target shots and 1 successful dribble for the match. So much potential so little output.
– Perez was extremely quiet in attack with only 1 off target shot to speak off. His performance left me hoping Alexis is restored to the centre forward position for the match versus PSG and beyond. Perez might benefit from a spell on the left wing and running angled off the ball runs into the box similar to what Walcott does in the right.
In terms of the bench, Giroud (2 off target shots and 1 key pass), Iwobi (1 key pass) and a tired looking Alexis (2 off target shots and 1 key pass) didn’t add much.
Overall a lucky win for Arsenal. I thought the penalty was a 50/50 challenge with Arsenal getting the rub of the green on this occasion. Arsenal’s forwards need to improve their efficiency in front of goal if the team is to improve. That has been a common theme over the last few seasons but with Alexis getting somewhat of a breather and Walcott continuing to apply himself, there is hope if one of Perez, Ox or Ramsey can contribute from the left flank.