Arsenal stretched their Premier League unbeaten run to six matches with a 3-1 victory over Southampton on a rainy night at St. Mary’s.
Having steadied a ship on its way to the bottom of the ocean, a Boxing Day victory over Chelsea has reset the course, one that now has its sights set on a European berth. There is still a long way to go before that can become a reality, not least given the set of fixtures to come.
There is renewed optimism though, mostly due to the manner of the midweek victory. Nicolas Pepe coolly slotted home after Arsenal had fallen behind early on, with Bukayo Saka showing equal composure to put the visitors in front just before the break.
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A controlled second half performance saw Southampton rarely threaten with purpose, as an assured defensive display was matched with a tactically astute high press.
What we learned from Arsenal beating Southampton 3-1 in the Premier League
Saka turned provider 18 minutes from time to seal the deal as his delightful first time ball found Alexandre Lacazette with a simple tap-in.
A victory brimming with positives maintains Arsenal’s rich vein of Premier League form, a spell that is essential ahead of Saturday’s visit of Manchester United who are unbeaten in the division since Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang netted the Gunners’ winner at Old Trafford.
Here is what we learned from Tuesday’s win.
Arsenal Win Their First Premier League Match After Conceding First
For all the positive elements of Mikel Arteta’s tenure at Arsenal, one of the most worrying has been their record after conceding the first goal. Indeed, his side had not won a Premier League match having fallen behind this season, a trait that carried on from the previous term.
Before the win at St. Mary’s you’d have to go back to July to find the last time this happened – a 2-1 win over Liverpool on home soil.
It’s interesting as ‘showing character’ is usually the defining element behind why teams are able to fight back from losing positions. This Arsenal side have lacked plenty of that since that July fixture, although not among the whole squad.
Noticeable from the opening seconds were that Southampton were more open than they were four days previously, and were there to be wounded. The likes of Pepe, especially having been at fault for the opener, didn’t shy away from responsibility and took it upon themselves to make more movements off the ball.
While personality is an ingredient to fight, it also boils down to, quite simply, having better players. Thomas Partey is not someone whose head will drop, nor is Emile Smith Rowe. These are players whose mental resilience isn’t affected by setbacks in matches, with that spirit permeating throughout the team.
Would the side have fought back as valiantly were certain members of the squad not present? No chance. They bring professionalism in more than just on-field ability.