Not expecting Arsenal to win his one, let alone 0-2 – but a couple of firsts. First goal for Willock and first Premiership away win for Arteta.
Heat was a big factor in this game. Retaining the ball was key – and stopping the restart rot.
The key question: was the work done by Arteta and the coaching team, post City and Brighton enough to stop the slide, against a team high on confidence?
Ings had a chance in first minute – the ball bouncing off Saka in the area. The ex-Burnley and Liverpool man has a good record against Arsenal.
In the first ten Arsenal couldn’t get out of their half. A series of poor balls from defence to midfield lead to Southampton piling on the pressure.
But Aubameyang had shot, relieving – but the flag was up, followed by a good run from Saka – but he was offside, as well. Those attacks signalled a change of momentum
Højbjerg perpetrated a sly foul on Pepe who was breaking away dangerously.
Aubameyang – ran onto a long ball and hit the crossbar from an angle. McCarthy saved with his thumb – a sign Arsenal’s luck was not turning – remember Saka’s crossbar hit? Or a positive portent.
Mustafi flew in with a dangerous badly timed tackle, as is his wont – keeping Arsenal top of the yellow card table.
Ings went on a dangerous run but was tracked by Holding, who was playing with confidence.
Arsenal had a couple of corners.
But then McCarthy had a lapse of concentration, as he telegraphed a pass centrally to the midfield. Nketiah showed good anticipation – blocking the pass-out and rolling it into the empty net.
Bellerin, who was guilty of some bad passes and poor positional play redeemed himself somewhat as he tackled Redmond in a threatening position.
A counter-attack break on 41 saw a Pepe cross straight to …McCarthy, followed soon after by another – with a dangerous pass in the area – hashed by Nketiah.
Spurs loanee, Walker Peters came on for Valery and Long for Obafemi.
Arsenal have lost ten points from winning positions since Arteta took over. Could this be the first away win under Arteta and the first for the team since December?
The first fifteen Southampton looked sharper and more dangerous, following the subs and tweaks to formation. It lead to Willock coming on for Pepe – who may have had a little tweak.
Martinez sent a long ball to Aubameyang who poked it to the onrushing Nketiah – but Bednarak touched it away.
Arsenal were looking dangerous on the break with Saka to Xhaka with Pepe on the overlap – but it came to nothing.
But Arsenal can exhibit an outbreak of fragility at any minute, as Ceballos exemplified, heading straight to Redmond who fired it into the side netting.
Long had a good chance running onto a high ball in the area, but fired a hard shot too close to Martinez who grabbed it at the second attempt.
Nketiah came off with Ceballos for Lacazette and Maitland-Niles.
A crossfield ball saw Stephens bring down Aubameyang who was in on goal and get red-carded – his second against Arsenal.
A Lacazette free kick bounced off the wall, and the Frenchman fired goalward again. McCarthy parried but Willock was quick to knock it in off the rebound.
After the match Eddie Nketiah said it was an important three points. “We had to roll our sleeves up and fight for the points. It was difficult. They were strong in the second half. We worked a lot on the high press – and did it well today.
On his pressing, he said: “I have done it 100 times – nice that it led to a goal.”
Mikel Arteta said: “We were very focused. We have been working hard – it is good to reward ourselves with three points.
“It has been tough for last three to four days. We had ten men at Manchester City. And we had the Brighton game under control. The players were affected. We asked them to come and defend together for 90 minutes.”
Ralph Hasenhutll in a compliment to Arteta’s tactics, said: “They had solutions against our pressing in first half.”
Southampton: McCarthy, Valery (Substituted for Walker-Petersat 45), Stephens (Booked at 85), Bednarek, Bertrand, Armstrong, Ward-Prowse, Højbjerg (Substituted for Vestergaard at 90+1), Redmond, Ings (Substituted for Romeu at 90+1), Obafemi (Substituted for Long at 45)
Arsenal: Martínez, Mustafi (Booked at 11), Holding, Tierney (Substituted for Kolasinac at 70), Bellerín (Ceballos Substituted for Maitland-Nilesat 80), Xhaka, Saka (Booked at 47), Pépé (Substituted for Willock at 64), Nketiah (Substituted for Lacazette at 79), Aubameyang