Arsenal stepped up their pursuit of a top-four finish with a solid, but not spectacular win over Southampton – the first time they’ve beaten Southampton away in the league since 2003.
At first it looked as though Southampton were going to exercise their hoodoo over Arsenal and put a large dent in their hunt for Champions League football. Petr Cech had to have his wits about him for the first-half but as the game entered the second, Arsenal began to get control of the game.
Arsenal broke the deadlock following a brilliant piece of skill from Alexis Sanchez and from then on in, steered themselves towards the three points with Olivier Giroud doubling the lead.
So with that said, let’s have a look at the four things we learned from the game.
1) Time for Bellerin to retake his position?
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been a man reborn in his new wing-back position. After a season that seemed like he would once again underperform, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been superb. Efficient and with an end product the Ox has finally been delivering on his talent, against Southampton however, that all came to an end. The Ox was forced to come off with an apparent hamstring injury which could end his season.
Due to the Englishman’s resurgence, Hector Bellerin has been relegated to the sidelines, with Oxlade-Chamberlain’s injury, Bellerin has an ideal opportunity to stamp his mark on the first-team again.
2) Wenger needs to make a slight alteration to help out Ozil
Arsenal’s new 3-4-3 formation has seen a more solid and structured Arsenal but has also seen Ozil’s influence diminish.
The German did pick up an assist against Southampton but has otherwise largely struggled to impose himself in matches. In Arsenal’s current system, Ozil currently plays in tandem behind the striker with Alexis Sanchez. The German international often has to come looking for the ball and is unable to orchestrate Arsenal’s attacks. If Wenger could make a slight alteration by moving Ozil into the number 10 role whilst pushing Sanchez up to become a second striker, it may well just bring out the best of Arsenal’s maestro.
3) Sanchez joins an elite group
The Chilean scored his twentieth league goal and joined an elite quartet of Arsenal players to score twenty or more in a Premier League season. Wright, Henry, Van Persie, Adebayor and now Sanchez – an illustrious group. Quite simply, Sanchez been outstanding and has easily been Arsenal’s ‘Player of the Season’, how did he not get into the ‘Team of the Year’.
4) The hunt for the top four is very much on
It wasn’t the best performance but Arsenal got the three points to push them into fifth, three points off City and four off Liverpool with a game in hand. Arsenal face a potential banana skin against Stoke but you’d expect the Gunners to take the three points and then follow that up with a win against Sunderland. It’s still not in their hands Arsenal must win all their remaining games, if they do, all it takes is a slip up from Man City and Liverpool to secure a top four spot. A draw from a stuttering Liverpool side is not completely unplausible.
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