Arsenal hosted Southampton on Saturday after the international break as Premier League resumed again after the 1-week gap. It was an entertaining game where the two teams played for a win and in the end, the home team got the victory via a debatable penalty. Arsenal were lucky to get all the three points from the game and Southampton were hard done by after their encouraging performance on the day. The final scoreline read 2-1 in favour of the hosts as they grabbed their first home win of the season. Let’s try and find out how the game panned out tactically.
Team selections and Formations
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger opted for a very surprising first XI against Southampton with both Mustafi and Perez making their debut’s. The usual 4-2-3-1 was deployed with Petr Cech in goal and Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny and Monreal completing the back line. The midfield base had Santi Cazorla alongside Francis Coquelin with the two wings featuring the likes of Theo Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain. Mesut Ozil occupied the playmaker role in behind the striker as new boy Perez lead the line.
Southampton boss Claude Puel also made three changes to his side just like his opposite number replacing Matt Target, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Charlie Austin with Ryan Bertrand, Jordie Clasie, and Jay Rodriguez. The Saint’s diamond formation of 4-1-2-1-2/4-3-1-2 had Forster in goal, Cedrik, Fonte, Van Dijk and Bertrand in defence, Romeu, Clasie, Davis and Tadic completing the midfield diamond and Redmond up front with Rodriguez.
Puel Shows his Mettle
Claude Puel changed the approach of his side to the previous Southampton teams which visited Emirates in recent years. Even though they were also very effective, this time around the visitors moved away from employing a high pressing system when not in possession, concentrating more on blocking the passing angles in the midfield.
They made it very hard for Arsenal to build play through the central areas resulting in a lot of innocuous side passes and back passes in between the defenders and the midfielders. The transitions of Southampton were very quick which troubled the home side early in the first half and during the second half as well. To be fair, Puel’s men had the clearest cut opportunities to score but Shane Long’s misses proved costly for them in the end.
Ozil Disappoint When Pressured Again As Cazorla Bail Out The Team
Mesut Ozil had a very poor game on Saturday as he seemed never to be involved, struggling to make any sort of impact. Wenger kept Ozil on the field for the full 90 minutes but the German remained thoroughly ineffective hardly helping the team in the forward areas and very surprisingly making uncharacteristically poor first touches on the ball as well.
Arsenal’s man of the match for the game was undoubtedly Santi Cazorla, the Spaniard, was the one who tried to make things happen with his incisive passing and movement, bypassing the opponent’s line engaging them to vacate their positions in order to contain him which opened up spaces. Only if, his teammates were able to deliver a better final ball, Arsenal would’ve been able to dominate the tie. Santi Cazorla’s all-round display was a joy to watch.
The diminutive midfielder passed the ball with 94% accuracy creating 3 chances upfront while completing all of his 4 attempted take-on while defensively he made 3 vital interceptions and 4 blocks to efficiently support his partner Francis Coquelin as well. It was his penalty kick which secured all the three points for Arsenal and him for his performances deserved to be the winner even if Arsenal on the whole didn’t.