Battling Southampton pegs back Arsenal
SOUTHAMPTON – Premier League leaders Arsenal were held by Southampton at St Mary’s as they drew for the first time this season.
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Granit Xhaka’s first half strike gave Arsenal a deserved lead but Stuart Armstrong scored a second half equalizer and Southampton were good value for that point as a raucous home crowd roared them over the line.
With the draw Arsenal remain two points clear atop the table, while Southampton move on to 12 points.
What we learned from Southampton vs Arsenal
Early goal remains key for Gunners: All season long they’ve set the tone early in games, come flying out of the traps and scored early when they’re on top. The rest then usually takes care of itself as Arsenal can sit back and tempt opponents to take more chances to get back in the game. It is clearly something Mikel Arteta is demanding and this young team is full of energy, pace and excitement. Sometimes the game is as simple as starting fast and then having the right to control the tempo. However, maybe fatigue kicked in and they couldn’t get over the line to make it 10 wins out of 11 to start the season.
Saints finding some rhythm: Missing Che Adams from the start after a slight hamstring issue, plus several other regulars through injury, this was a brave lineup selection from Hasenhuttl. They went for a 4-4-2 system and when they won the ball back high, they caused problems. Saints will be in a battle to stay out of the relegation battle this season but they’ve had a tough start to the campaign as six of their opening 12 games have come against teams in the top seven. They’ve shown enough to suggest they can push towards midtable and the pressure is off Hasenhuttl for now.
Saints were brave and went with a 4-4-2 from the start. On the odd occasion they won the ball back high they looked a threat but Arsenal picked holes in their midfield pretty easily and it was a huge shock that it was only 1-0 to the Gunners at half time. The second half saw Saints play with real bravery and they got their reward.
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Stars of the show
Lyanco: Brilliant defending out of position at right back. Set the tone for a dogged Saints display.
Duje Caleta-Car: Excellent. Kept Jesus quiet and calm on the ball. Building a good partnership with Salisu at center back.
Granit Xhaka: Got the goal and oozed class on the ball. His great season continues.
Southampton head to Crystal Palace next Saturday, Oct. 29, while Arsenal travel to PSV Eindhoven on Thursday in the Europa League and then host Nottingham Forest on Sunday, Oct. 30.
How to watch Southampton vs Arsenal live, stream link and start time
Kick off: 9am ET, SundayTV Channel: PeacockOnline: Stream via Peacock Premium
Saints got a much-needed win after a terrible run of form and Hasenhuttl has gone back to a more experienced starting lineup for a crucial stretch of games. Che Adams is leading the line superbly and Saints look much better defensively this season. They are a very strange team as they’ve beaten Chelsea at home this season but lost to the likes of Aston Villa, Everton and Wolves. Saints need consistency and that will allow Hasenhuttl to play his talented youngsters more often. Saints’ last shutout at home came in their 1-0 win against Arsenal in April and the last two teams they’ve hosted an Arsenal side who were top of the PL they’ve one won and drawn one of those encounters.
As for Arsenal, well, they battled to a 1-0 win away at Leeds last weekend and this should be a similar test for Arteta’s side. They lost 1-0 at Southampton last season in a game they dominated but couldn’t finish off chances. With Gabriel Jesus now around, these are the type of games they have to win if they want to seal a top four finish, at the very least, this season. Arsenal have kept more clean sheets (4) and conceded fewer goals (3) away from home than any other team in the PL this season.
In-form players to keep an eye on
Che Adams scored the winner at Bournemouth and ran himself into the ground leading the line, while Romain Perraud has a goal and assist in his last two games and the French left back is a real threat going forward. Bukayo Saka scored the winner for Arsenal at Leeds, while the Gunners are digging deep and putting in gritty displays.
Southampton team news, injuries, lineup
Tino Livramento continues to work his way back to full fitness, while talented teenage midfielder Romeo Lavia is very close to a return. Armel Bella-Kotchap suffered a shoulder injury against West Ham and will be out for a few weeks, at least, while right back Kyle Walker-Peters hobbled off against Bournemouth in midweek and is out for a long time with a hamstring issue. Saints go to a back five for this game.
Arsenal team news, injuries, lineup
Emile Smith Rowe and Mohamed Elneny remain out, while Oleksandr Zinchenko is out but Gabriel Martinelli is fit. The back four and two holding midfielders are settled.