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Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Arsenal drop points with draw against Southampton

Arsenal were held to a frustrating solitary point as they drew with Southampton 2-2. The first halves display was very disappointing and because of that a draw was deserved. The hosts were the better side and even had more possession showing just how good they were. Jose Fonte opened the scoring in the first half but the Gunners came back fighting after the break as Giroud and Cazorla scored quickfire goals. However we then switched off again to allow the Saints to score an equaliser. It was a bitterly tough result to take as it means that if both Chelsea and Man City win this game week then we'll slip to third. With our up and coming games, it was a match we really couldn't afford to drop points in.
Mesut Ozil was back to his best as Arsenal drew with Southampton
In terms of the line-up we fielded it was vastly different to the one that had started against Coventry. Szczesny, Sagna and Monreal all came back in for Fabianski, Jenkinson and Gibbs respectively. Meanwhile Jack Wilshere missed the game and The Ox was back on the bench so Arteta and Flamini started in midfield. Ozil regained his place whilst Cazorla and Giroud came in for Podolski and Bendtner.

I'll start off with the negatives from the game. Our usually talented midfield was especially poor and setting up with both Flamini and Arteta next to each other hindered our performance hugely. We lacked a deep lying play maker in the form of a Ramsey and Wilshere who both were injured so in a way we had no choice over who to play. Oxlade-Chamberlain played there in the FA Cup win over Coventry but he didn't impress hugely. Three of our worst performance this season, Napoli away, Man United away and now Southampton away all occurred when Arteta and Flamini were playing beside each other. To make matters worse, Flamini was sent off. It was a moment of madness from a very experienced player. He went in two footed and despite getting the ball, a challenge like that was always going to be a red. He will now miss the next four games which will be a big loss.

Our usually solid defence also wasn't at its best. Saying that though, without Mertesacker and Koscielny saving us on various occasions we would've lost the game. Monreal wasn't at his best and the defence lost concentration way too often for a back line that has the best defensive record in the Premier League this season. Their first goal was sloppy defending from a cross whilst their second was easily avoidable as Adam Lallana fired home un-marked. Despite that, Southampton were very very good and Luke Shaw at left back, Adam Lallana in midfield and Jay Rodriguez upfront all impressed.

Onto the positives though and that started with our brilliant response after the break. Sagna fired in a low cross which Olivier Giroud flicked home to make it 1-1. It's great to see the Frenchman regaining some form. He has now netted four goals in his last five games in all competitions after failing to score in seven games before that. Santi Cazorla also maintained his fine form in 2014 with a goal to put us in front. Mesut Ozil picked the Spaniard out on the edge of the area as Cazorla found the net with his left foot.

Mesut Ozil was the stand out player of the night though. His first half display, along with many of the other Arsenal players wasn't good enough. However when we needed him to step up most he did. As said, he assisted the second goal and was just simply world class for that 45 minutes. One moment included a run which he started inside his own half, dashing past 3 players before hitting a shot that deflected against the bar. After a quiet last few games it was a huge relief to see him back to his best.

So then, a frustrating draw but there was still some encouraging performances. The most annoying thing about the whole performance though was that we couldn't afford to slip up this month. Our next few months consist of league games against Liverpool, United, Spurs, City and Everton. It really is make or break from now on in.

The teams line-ups:

Southampton: Boruc, Chambers, Fonte, Yoshida, Shaw, Cork, Schneiderlin, Davis(89), Lallana, Rodriguez, Gallagher(70).
Subs: Davis, Hooiveld, Isgrove, Wanyama, Ward-Prowse(70), Guly(89). 

Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Arteta, Flamini, Gnabry(70), Ozil, Cazorla(86), Giroud(90). 
Subs: Fabianski, Vermaelen, Jenkinson, Gibbs(86), Oxlade-Chamberlain(70), Podolski(90), Bendtner.

My man of the match: Mesut Ozil.

Referee: Lee Mason.
Attendance: 31,284.

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