Arsenal suffered their third successive Premier League defeat, as Southampton ended their own poor run of form with a crucial 1-0 win at St. Mary’s to dent the Gunners’ top four hopes and secure their first league victory since the end of February.
Despite Mikel Arteta’s side creating the better openings in the first half, it was Southampton that took the lead against the run of play just before half-time.
Mohamed Elyounoussi’s low cross into the box from the left was swept in at the near post by an advanced Jan Bednarek, who finished well beyond Aaron Ramsdale in the Arsenal goal.
With Southampton dropping 23 points from winning positions this season, the tactic from Ralph Hasenhuttl in the second half was for his side to sit deep and let Arsenal have the ball.
Arteta then switched formation to a back-three, and the change saw Arsenal create one of their best chances after 72 minutes.
Emile Smith Rowe’s bobbling effort from inside the box was fantastically kept out by Fraser Forster, who dived to his left to maintain Southampton’s advantage.
Granit Xhaka then came close, as his long-range effort was saved by Forster with just over five minutes to play.
Southampton held on to secure a crucial win, and move up to 11th in the table.
TALKING POINT – ARSENAL FAIL TO CAPITALISE
Arsenal’s players will be kicking themselves this evening, especially considering their north London rivals lost 1-0 to Brighton earlier in the day, meaning a win against Southampton would’ve taken them level on points with them.
However, it proved to be another tepid performance by Mikel Arteta’s side, as Southampton’s defensive structure was very frustrating for them to deal with.
With three defeats on the bounce, and tough games coming up against Manchester United, Chelsea, and West Ham, Arsenal need to end their blip if they stand any chance of sealing fourth place in the table.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH – FRASER FORSTER
This was a colossal performance from Southampton’s goalkeeper, who made a total of six saves, and two claims. Two of those stops prevented certain goals for Arsenal, with the pick of them being his acrobatic diving effort to deny Bukayo Saka from close range in the first half.
The 34-year-old’s shot stopping was particularly important, and he also looked very confident in dealing with set-piece deliveries and crosses.
With Arsenal throwing everything in the latter stages to snatch an equaliser, Forster remained calm and composed to deal with all that was thrown his way, and marshal the players ahead of him to keep an important clean sheet.
Southampton: Forster 8, Valery 7, Lyanco 7, Bednarek 8, Walker-Peters 6, Ward-Prowse 6, Romeu 7, Perraud 6, Armstrong 6, Elyounoussi 7, Broja 6. Subs: Redmond 6, Livramento 6, Long 6.
Arsenal: Ramsdale 6, Tavares 6, Gabriel 6, White 7, Cedric 6, Xhaka 6, Lokonga 6, Odegaard 7, Saka 7, Martinelli 6, Nketiah 6. Subs: Pepe 6, Smith Rowe 6.
16’ – WHAT A SAVE! – Arsenal should be in front! A calamitous defensive error from Lyanco leaves Arsenal with a great chance to take the lead but they cannot capitalise! Martinelli is played in on the right-side of the box by Nketiah, who won the initial ball back. The Brazilian then cuts the ball back for a free Saka in the six-yard box, but his shot from close range is miraculously saved by a diving Forster!
44’ – GOAL! (Jan Bednarek) – Bednarek gives Southampton the lead just before half-time! Saints deliver in a corner, which Arsenal only partially clear from a Ramsdale punch. Southampton recycle it, and Elyounossi does well on the left byline to keep the ball in play and put in a low cross for Bednarek, who does excellently to finish it well beyond Ramsdale first-time at the near post!
72′ – ANOTHER FANTASTIC SAVE! – Forster dives to his left to keep out Smith Rowe with another huge save! A ball comes into the box, which comes off the back of Valery. The ball finds Smith Rowe, who does not connect cleanly with the ball, but it is on target, but the Southampton goalkeeper is there to keep it out with a great stop.