Saints stand firm to deny Arsenal top spot
Southampton completely outclassed the Londoners to secure a first win since November22:03 Saturday 26 December 2015, 22:03 26 Dec 2015
Southampton will grab the headlines with a resounding 4-0 win over title hopefuls Arsenal and rightly so, the scoreline was an accurate reflection of the performance.
Ronald Koeman's side were excellent this evening; tactically sound, full of creativity and more than anything else they had the desire to go on and win.
A sublime first half strike from Cuco Martina inspired the Saints to a thoroughly dominant second half performance and if not for a slightly contnetious goal (a perceived trip from Shane Long) it could have been closer game from Arsenal.
Theo Walcott had two relatively good chances in the first half to draw level but both were squandered, allowing Southampton to go in at the break leading.
Southampton 1-0 Arsenal HT: Shots: 6-5 Pass accuracy: 76%-84% Chances created: 3-4 Possession: 42%-58% pic.twitter.com/HsEgRaOq08— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 26, 2015
The stats show just how close it was at the break, but it was as soon as the heads dropped when Wenger's side crumbled.
Virgil van Dijk had a disallowed goal for offside, another warning sign that Southampton were up for this but the Saints' second goal summed up their day.
Shane Long powered into the box as he saw Sadio Mane run through the Arsenal defence and side footed home the squared ball.
That desire was clear from Long, but not from many of the Arsenal players. Monday night's win over Manchester City was of course an impressive result and sent out a signal of intent, but the players showed little desire to win tonight.
Time and again Per Mertesacker (who may I remind you is 6'6) was bullied by Long (5'8) and pushed around by the Tipperary native.
Whatever fight Arsenal may have had was gone after Jose Fonte's 69th minutes header and it was a case of damage limitation.
Long's second and Southampton's fourth of the afternoon capped off a wonderful evening for Ronald Koeman's men.
Take nothing away from Southampton's vicory, it was well deserved and should be fully praised but what we should focus on is how poor Arsenal were.
Very little creativity, little or no desire after they went 2-0 down and the way in which they conceded the fourth goal was abysmal by any Premier League standards.
Luckily they have the oppourtunity to atone for this result on Monday when they face Bournemouth, but for the time being it's a blow to the confidence of a team who really need to affirm themselves as title challengers.
Perhaps they felt the pressure after Leicester City lost today and a victory would have seen them climb top of the league.
Whatever the case ay be, should they be unable to settle themselves in the coming games, they could quickly find themselves in behind Tottenham, Manchester City and an Everton side who are desperate to break into the top four, with this season probably their best oppourunity in years.
The very best bits delivered every weekSubscribe now