Have Arsenal turned the corner defensively? After two consecutive clean sheets, surely that means there must be some improvement.
My view, for what it’s worth, is the midfield are still letting Arsenal down defensively. Against Southampton, Xhaka once again showed how to gift the opposition the ball. Luckily, the Saints didn’t have their shooting boots on and when they did Leno was equal to anything the visitors could muster.
Indeed, the German keeper was a good candidate for man-of-the-match, so expert was his handling and decision-making. I am pleased to note that Leno is only coming off his line when he’s sure he can get the ball nowadays, so at least he’s learned from previous mistakes made earlier in the season.
The rest of the defence were impressive also, with last-ditch challenges and blocks to keep the Saints at bay.
However, some of the crossfield passing by the midfield left a lot to be desired. It’s a cardinal sin to give the ball away needlessly on your own half, but Arsenal’s midfield seem unperturbed by that prospect and take silly risks. A better team than Southampton will punish the Gunners severely for unforced errors.
That’s why I would always start with Guendouzi in the team: as he has the ability to win the ball back following a mistake.
Despite the Frenchman’s omission, there were more complaints online about Ozil’s return to the bench, particularly as Juventus-bound Ramsey played in the hole instead.
The Welshman didn’t make as much impact as the much-maligned Iwobi, who adroitly set up Mkhitaryan for the second and decisive goal. The question is how long will take Arsenal fans to notice what the Nigeria international brings to the team: energy and creativity.
However, the opener was created by the man on the opposite flank: the aforementioned Mkhitaryan. The Armenia’s wayward drive was diverted goalwards by Arsenal’s very own Jason Derulo, Alexandre Lacazette, singing: ‘Freaky, freaky goal, swallalala!’
Many fans wanted Aubameyang to be included in the stay eleven but, in the end, the team Emery fielded vindicated his controversial decisions to leave out the fans’ favourites.
With Manchester United dropping points at home to Liverpool, Arsenal moved into the top four, a position they would love to be in come the end of the season.