Welcome to my Arsenal blog for the 2015/16 season; here you can check out my thoughts on the current goings on at the club.
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Monday, 25 November 2013

Giroud at the double as Arsenal beat Southampton

Arsenal made a return to action following the international break and it couldn't have got much better for the Gunners. Olivier Giroud capitalised on a howler from Boruc before firing home from the penalty spot to seal a 2-0 win at the Emirates. With Liverpool dropping points earlier in the day, the win sent us 4 points clear at the top of the table as we bounced back in convincing fashion, following our defeat at the hands of Manchester United last time out. The line-up saw Per Mertesacker and Tomas Rosicky return to the squad following illness whilst Theo Walcott also featured following a two month lay-off with an abdominal injury.
Olivier Giroud scored twice as Arsenal beat Southampton
The match was one that was expected to be quite a tough one. Southampton had been rock solid at the back this season and had one of the best records in Europe. The way they conceded both their goals was very ironic though in the fact that it was two basic errors that cost them the game. Artur Boruc auditioned for Strictly Come Dancing with some very weird footwork. Instead of smashing the ball up field he tried a combination of flicks and drag-backs in an attempt to avoid Giroud. However the Polish keeper was made to look stupid as the Frenchman stole in to open the scoring. Southampton were lacking Dejan Lovren through illness and it was evident that he was a key loss. They didn't look as assured as they had this season at the back and a rush of blood from Fonte allowed us to score a second. Per Mertesacker, a man in form having scored against England for Germany in the week, had his shirt pulled back from a corner, resulting in a penalty. Arteta was off the field so it was up to Giroud who confidently found the net. It was refreshing to see Giroud back on the score-sheet in the league having been through a bit of dip in form over the past few months.

Mesut Ozil showed signs that his form was returning as he created one or two chances and managed to fire in the odd shot. Santi Cazorla didn't provide the sparkle we're so used to seeing from the Spaniard though. The effects of traveling out to Guinea and South Africa for friendlies with Spain was clearly evident. Mathieu Flamini was missing through suspension but with Arteta filling the hole there wasn't really much to worry about. Once again, I think we're better when Arteta accompanies Ramsey or Wilshere, instead of Flamini.

Onto Ramsey and Wilshere and they both heavily impressed. Wilshere more so than we've been used to this season. He featured heavily on international duty for England, starting against Chile and then coming on as a sub against Germany. He looked like a revived player on Saturday though. His passing was more crisper and his brilliant driving runs that we've been so used to seeing were as good as ever. When Jack's in the mood it helps the team so much. Wenger recently said that Wilshere's best position was in the deep lying role and that's where he was more or less playing against Southampton. He drifted a bit out wide with Ramsey also in the squad but his runs from deep allowed us to dictate the tempo of the game to our advantage.

Our defence though were extremely solid again. Koscielny was sent off and gave away a penalty on international duty but that didn't seem to affect his confidence when he returned to club action. His partnership with Mertesacker is really beginning to become a force to be reckoned with. We've only conceded one goal this month in 5 games which was in the defeat to United. Considering it's the position we're lacking the most depth in its probably just as well really that we're not having troubles in that department.

Next up is Marseille in the Champions League at the Emirates. We comfortably beat them 2-1 away from home last time out and we haven't really had many troubles when up against the French side in recent meetings. However, this is the Champions League, and despite Marseille not really having a chance of qualifying they'll still be a tough side to break down. Theo Walcott is still to make his proper comeback following a substitute appearance against his old club which is something to get excited about ahead of Tuesday's game.

The teams lineups:

Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Arteta(74), Wilshere, Ramsey, Ozil(81), Cazorla(70), Giroud.
Subs: Fabianski, Vermaelen, Monreal(81), Rosicky(74), Gnabry, Walcott(70), Bendtner.

Southampton: Boruc, Clyne Hooiveld, Fonte, Shaw(45), Schneiderlin, Wanyama, Ward-Prowse, Lallana(53), Rodriguez, Lambert.
Subs: Gazzaniga, Yoshida, Chambers, Reed, Davis(46), Gallagher, Osvaldo(53).

My man of the match: Olivier Giroud.

Referee: Mark Clattenburg.
Attendance: 60,007. 

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