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Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Arsenal slip up in first game of new year

Arsenal could only manage a draw against Southampton in their first game of 2013 on Tuesday as they had to settle for a hard fought draw at St Mary's. The Gunners were nowhere near their best as they failed to create chances and they looked far from a side that had won their last four games. With an emphatic victory over Newcastle in which they scored seven, you would have thought Southampton would have been a simple task but a poor defensive display meant the score finished all square. Arsenal were once again un-changed as Laurent Koscielny kept his place despite Per Mertesacker being fit again after returning from illness. Meanwhile Theo Walcott got another chance to prove himself in the central striker role.

However two substitutes, Gervinho and Ramsey, who came on to try and change the game in Arsenal's favour in the second half, left the fans especially frustrated by Wenger's weird tactics. Tomas Rosicky would have been the preferred choice, especially with Santi Cazorla coming off. As for Gervinho, he shouldn't be any where near the first team at the moment despite his early season form - Andrey Arshavin should be considered as getting a run in the first team despite being rumoured as a potential departure in the January transfer window.
Theo Walcott failed to get on the score sheet against his old club
It was a game of few chances but the first shot on goal came in the fourth minute as Santi Cazorla hit the ball on the half volley, which took a deflection and bounced just wide of the post.

It was a nervy start for Southampton goalkeeper Artur Boruc as he spilt the ball twice in quick succession, but luckily for the hosts, Arsenal couldn't profit from it.

Arsenal were all over the place at the back and then Southampton took advantage of that as they took the lead. Sagna's attempted clearence put Vermaelen under pressure and then Puncheon stole in and layed the ball off to Gaston Ramirez who rifled the ball home.

However the Saints weren't ahead for long as six minutes before the break, Arsenal were level. Theo Walcott delivered a free-kick into the box from the left flank and Guly Do Prado stuck a leg out and it came off him and went into the back of the net. It was the third own goal Southampton had scored against the Gunners this season.

Arsenal were pressing for a second and Oxlade-Chamberlain almost provided them with one as he got the ball on the right and then played in a dangerous ball which no one could get onto.

The score at half time was 1-1.

The first shot on goal in the second half came from Do Prado as he let fly from outside the box but Szczesny was there to put the ball out for a corner.

From the resulting corner Southampton were almost back in front as the ball bounced off of Sagna but Szczesny was in the way to stop the ball on the line.

Arsenal were then once again un-done by Jason Puncheon who was troubling Gibbs. He managed to play the ball through to Schneiderlin who then tried to pick out Lambert but Szczesny palmed the ball away and Lambert slipped to deny himself a goal scoring opportunity.

Puncheon then received the ball down the right hand side again as he looked to take on Gibbs but instead hit a shot which could only find the side netting.

Gaston Ramirez was the man pulling the strings for the hosts as he then fizzed a shot just over the bar.

Theo Walcott wasn't having the impact he would have wanted against his old club and then when Giroud came on he was moved out to the wide position. However Giroud then did indeed set up a chance for Walcott but instead of driving towards goal he hit a shot from just inside the area which was straight at Boruc.

The home side were then to have a brilliant goal by Ramirez ruled out for a push on Koscielny in the build up.

With ten minutes left to play, the Gunners were searching for a winner and they almost got that as the ball was headed out of the danger area by a Southampton player. However the clearence only went as far as Arteta who drove a shot wide.

Gervinho then had one last chance for Arsenal as he cut inside from the left hand side before dragging a shot wide.

The final score finished Southampton 1-1 Arsenal.

The teams lineups:

Southampton: Boruc, Cork, Fonte, Yoshida, Shaw, Puncheon, Schneiderlin, Davis, Do Prado(83), Ramirez(77), Lambert(74).
Subs: Davis, Hooiveld, Richardson, Ward-Prowse(77), De Ridder(83), Rodriguez(74), Mayuka.

Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Arteta, Wilshere, Cazorla(74), Oxlade-Chamberlain(74), Podolski(58), Walcott.
Subs: Martinez, Mertesacker, Coquelin, Ramsey(74), Rosicky, Gervinho(74), Giroud(58). 

My man of the match: Wojciech Szczesny

Referee: Lee Probert
Attendance: 31,743

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