Well that was rather emphatic. Arsenal raced ahead in the first half before putting that infuriating handbrake on, but this time with good reason. With Montpellier and City to come in the next 8 days, the players needed to conserve energy.
The last time we beat Southampton 6-1 was on 7th May 2003, which was the first of our record-breaking 49 match unbeaten run. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, because that isn’t going to happen again. Probably not, anyway. But after four games, we sit third in the league with 8 points and the best goal difference in the league – 7. None of our rivals are looking mind-blowingly awesome (both Chelsea and City drew today), which has to give us some confidence.
Cazorla was my man of the match today, with another scintillating performance. Here are my player ratings:
Szczesny 4.5 He may not have had much to do, but he wasn’t overly convincing when he was busy. During the first half, he sliced a clearance, but it wasn’t worrying because we were playing so well. His kicking continued to be abject during the second half, and it was our defenders who saved him time and again. The Southampton goal came directly from Wojciech’s mistake, but I think we have to bear in mind that he had so little to do in the first half that it must have been difficult to keep concentration. Hopefully he will improve as he gets a bit more game time.
Jenkinson 6.5 Gaining in confidence with each game, but still makes me scared when he is in possession and turns towards our goal because he is so right-footed. If he used his left foot, he’d be more comfortable with the ball and will run into fewer problems.
Mertesacker 7 Kept Lambert in his pocket for most of the match. Won his aerial duels in defence and in attack, almost scoring from a lofted Coquelin pass in the first half. His positioning was perfect and he is so composed on the ball. Instrumental in our solid defence so far this season.
Vermaelen 7 Another strong display from the captain. Made a great tackle after losing the ball following a poor pass from Jenkinson, but other than that he had barely any problems to deal with. He kept the ball moving across the pitch and even bombed forwards at the end, in a move than culminated with Theo’s goal.
Gibbs 7.5 Excellent game from our left back, who is looking better each match. He was directly involved in the two own goals as he pushed up the field and fired the ball into the box.
Arteta 7 He has perfected his role as the heart of our team. He sits when the opposition attack and he starts the attacks when we move forward. His contribution cannot be overstated, but we must question whether we have a replacement in that position.
Coquelin 6.5 He showed his typically energetic self with a lively performance. Looked comfortable with the slick passing of Arteta and Cazorla.
Cazorla 8 MOTM Superb game, once again, from the typically Spanish Spaniard. His close control is mesmerising, his passing is inch-perfect and his movement is impossible to track. Created openings pretty much when he wanted to.
Oxlade-Chamberlain 6.5 Not his finest game, but still put in a decent shift. He made a few runs in the first half which were dangerous, but dropped deeper and more central in the second half, especially when Theo came on.
Podolski 8 His pace, strength and close control were sensational in the first half. The first goal was all about those attributes as he battled to keep possession before bursting forward and finding Gibbs. His second goal was a peach of a free kick, and hopefully we can have a few more of them this season.
Gervinho 7.5 A different beast from last season, he looks hungrier and his dribbling is even more dangerous. He made plenty of chances and his movement as a striker/winger left Southampton in a mess. He was able to skip past defenders with ease when he had the ball, but his off-the-ball movement was essential for the first goal, which he finished with aplomb. He capped off his game with a tap-in late in the second half.
Walcott 6.5 His pace caused problems in the short time he was on the pitch, but twice his final pass let him down. The first time he should have played in Giroud early, but he dallied and ended up crossing to Oxlade-Chamberlain. The second time he made a clever run through the centre of the pitch but his pass was too weak to find Cazorla who was in plenty of space on the left. Nevertheless, he scored with a well-placed effort after the ball fell to him.
Ramsey 7 As soon as he came on he made an impact with a smooth one-two in the box. He kept possession well and showed his skill to drag the ball past the defender and flick a shot onto the post for Gervinho’s second.
Giroud n/a He didn’t join the ranks of Henry, Wright, van Persie and Bergkamp in scoring his first league goal against Southampton, but he wasn’t given much time to do so. Perhaps Wenger wanted him fully rested for the Montpellier match.