Arsenal 2-0 Southampton: Gunners find rhythm in attack to see off Saints
Photo: Getty Images - Shaun Brooks

Arsenal 2-0 Southampton: Gunners find rhythm in attack to see off Saints

Lacazette and Mkhitaryan were on the score sheet as Arsenal beat Southampton. 

mattddawson
Matt Dawson

Arsenal's top four hopes received a boost as they comfortably beat Southampton 2-0. 

First-half goals from Alexandre Lacazette and Henrikh Mkhitaryan were enough as the Gunners looked more assured in front of goal and kept a rare clean sheet in the process. 

The Saints performance was poor as they were consigned to another defeat to remain very much relegation threatened. 

Story of the game 

Quick goals haven't usually been the order of the day at the Emirates this season but within six minutes they found themselves in front early on.

The goal came courtesy of Lacazette who was back in the side following suspension in the Europa League. Mkhitaryan received the ball at the back post and then his shot was flicked into the back of the net by the Frenchman who found himself in the right place at the right time.

Southampton defenders were furious that it had not been flagged for offside but he had been played on by a man deep in the picture.

There had been warning signs from a defensive point of view for Arsenal prior to that with Nathan Redmond forcing Bernd Leno into an early stop but Arsenal grew into the half and their opening 45-minute display was, without doubt, their best of the campaign.

That was confirmed with a second goal on 17 minutes. Mkhitaryan turned goal scorer this time as he arrived at the back post to meet Alex Iwobi's cross to score his third goal in two matches against Southampton. 

It was excellent hassling from Lacazette in the build-up as he forced Jack Stephens backwards before Angus Gunn's poor pass only found its way as far as Iwobi who then supplied the goal.

It could have been more for Arsenal and in particular, Lacazette who was doing his best to show the Gunners could perform with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who was only on the substitutes bench.

On another day the French international may have earned himself a hat-trick, seeing two efforts blocked and also firing over from close range when it looked harder to miss than it did score.

Three of Lacazette's opportunities had been supplied by Granit Xhaka. The Swiss has so often been the villain in Arsenal's piece but he had an outstanding first half in the Gunners midfield as his creativity led the way for a fluid attacking display.

Southampton's awful first half provoked two changes at the break, as Michael Obafemi who earned himself a new contract in the week and Charlie Austin came into the fray.

They began to fashion more opportunities in a new system but still struggled to break the Gunners down. Their best two opportunities fell to James Ward-Prowse who fired wide from the edge of the area after the ball was given away whilst later in the second half he had an effort blocked well by Sead Kolasinac.

Arsenal weren't as fluid and lacked the intensity they had in the first half but that didn't seem to matter. Mesut Ozil and Aubameyang were introduced but the Gunners earlier work in front of goal had been enough with action limited as the game went on.

But there were late chances for both sides. Aubameyang had a shot blocked and then moments later Matt Targett forced Leno into a rare save on the afternoon, volleying towards goal but seeing a shot denied.

The Gunners managed to see out the game and with Manchester United drawing 0-0 with Liverpool, moved into the top four. 

Takeaways 

Lacazette matches RVP

Lacazette has had a splendid season and although sometimes having to make do with a place on the bench, has never looked short of confidence in front of goal. He netted the Gunners opener and in the process became the first Arsenal player since Robin van Persie in 2011/12 to score in four consecutive Premier League home games. 

Arsenal's combination play

The Gunners have struggled for creativity in recent months but showed no signs of that today, particularly with their first-half display. It appears as though Emery has stumbled upon a winning formula again, reverting back to having a number ten with two wide players either side. It was a system that seemed to work well in the opening stages of the season as Iwobi and Mkhitaryan linked up well with Ramsey and Lacazette.

Hasenhuttl revolution slowing down

The match between these two side's earlier in the season saw Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl secure his first victory in charge of the Saints as Arsenal's 22 game unbeaten run came to an end. However, the story on this occasion was very different with their lacklustre defeat meaning they now haven't won in their last four league outings. The South Coast side are still facing an up hill battle to stay in the division.

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