- Arsenal vs Southampton kicks off at 6pm on Amazon Prime
45 mins – Arsenal 0 Southampton 1
Southampton free-kick wide left. Ward-Prowse goes for the back of the box, headed in, Armstrong shoots into bodies… and Arsenal get it clear.
Ceballos is booked for punching the ball off the floor in frustration.
43 mins – Arsenal 0 Southampton 1
Pepe goes close! The shot is struck straight down the middle though, giving McCarthy an easy save.
42 mins – Arsenal 0 Southampton 1
FOUL THROW. Maitland-Niles has just gotten away with one there. Southampton staff shout for it but nothing given. I wonder if a goal would be ruled out for a foul throw…
40 mins – Arsenal 0 Southampton 1
Here’s one for you: Southampton have had 62 per cent of possession against Arsenal at the Emirates.
39 mins – Arsenal 0 Southampton 1
Ceballos goes down in the box! He has his back to a defender and the goal, has control, then falls down and screams a bit. It’s not a penalty for me, Clive. And it’s not a penalty for Clive Tyldesley either, who agrees with me on commentary.
Arsenal keep going though and suddenly MCCARTHY HAS TO MAKE A SAVE! Brilliant reactions as a shot is thumped at the near post and kept out with a strong arm.
36 mins – Arsenal 0 Southampton 1
The camera has just cut to Edu sitting in the stands and he looks frustrated, even behind a mask, throwing his arms out at something he doesn’t like on the pitch. That has corresponded with Pepe jogging back onside and handing possession to Southampton near the box.
34 mins – Arsenal 0 Southampton 1
Arsenal players aren’t enjoying the aggressive tackling of their opponents but if they put in something like the same desire to win the football back they’d be a lot better off. Bertrand has left a bit too much on Pepe and been shown a yellow card for it. Southampton are horrible to play against and I mean that as a compliment.
31 mins – Arsenal 0 Southampton 1
Another enjoyable aspect of this game is that a lot of Arsenal fans seem to have lost their minds and are finding the funny side of their team crumbling into bits.
30 mins – Arsenal 0 Southampton 1
Pepe has a shot blocked inside the area and Ceballos has a ping from distance but drills it over the bar. On a related note, Aubameyang is absolutely wasted on the left wing.
26 mins – Arsenal 0 Southampton 1
Walcott gets in behind the Arsenal line, a ball is chipped in and he fails to control it by the penalty spot… but Walcott is convinced Saka has handballed! Play continues.
Nketiah has taken a heavy challenge from Bednarek. The defender is booked.
25 mins – Arsenal 0 Southampton 1
Arsenal are rubbish. I’d like to offer some better analysis, and perhaps should focus on the tactical side of things and the various problems the manager has inherited, but sometimes all that’s needed is a quick observation. Southampton – at the moment – in total control. This could change at any minute of course but I wouldn’t expect that minute to be until late in the second half.
22 mins – Arsenal 0 Southampton 1
For any Arsenal fan furious with Walcott’s celebration, might I urge you to consider that Southampton were his boyhood club.
20 mins – Arsenal 0 Southampton 1
Just before that goal I was about to share an example of Southampton’s narrow shape – they’re so well drilled.
That’s every player in a tight compact space ready to get the ball forward and counter, following up with a high press. Hasenhuttl would have Arsenal in the top four at the moment.
Arsenal 0 Southampton 1
Of course it’s Walcott! It’s also a great goal. Vestergaard fires a great ball into midfield, Adams controls and turns, spots Walcott’s run and threads him in. The finish is perfect, clipped just over the goalkeeper into the net. And – thankfully! – Walcott celebrates properly.
15 mins – Arsenal 0 Southampton 0
Southampton’s players are so close together all the time. It’s a really compact shape, a clear 4-4-2 or 4-2-2-2, no player more than about 10 or 15 yards away from his teammate.
The strikers run into space higher up the pitch to help stretch play, then the unit moves up and gets back into shape.
13 mins – Arsenal 0 Southampton 0
Maitland-Niles shows some lovely close control to almost jink his way past three players near his own corner flag but that’s the problem with plenty of Arsenal players – they do the fancy stuff when it’s not at all needed. Just clip it forward like Tierney does there and Arsenal don’t lose possession.
Adams has gone down after taking an elbow to the jaw from Gabriel. It’s accidental… I think… but looks really sore.
10 mins – Arsenal 0 Southampton 0
Saints are finding space in the final third for their forwards to receive the ball but Arsenal are putting their bodies into tackles to block and prevent shots and crosses. Southampton look the better team at the moment.
8 mins – Arsenal 0 Southampton 0
Even though Saka’s come out badly from that challenge, it’s Southampton’s free-kick and Ward-Prowse whips one in with power to the box. Headed away.
Aubameyang tries to carry the ball up the right wing but can’t escape with it under control and Southampton are back in possession again.
6 mins – Arsenal 0 Southampton 0
Saka’s taken a sore one, yelping with pain as he goes into a tackle on Adams. It looks like his leg has been trapped underneath Adams as he kicks the ball away and has twisted or jarred in a way that a human leg isn’t supposed to. Hopefully he’s fine to continue. They physio is having a look now.
3 mins – Arsenal 0 Southampton 0
Absolutely love that it’s Clive Tyldesley and Andy Townsend on commentary tonight. Makes it feel like a big game in the early 2000s, before I’d ever heard of a coronavirus.
2 mins – Arsenal 0 Southampton 0
It looks like Arsenal are playing… a 4-4-2? Are they?! No. It’s a 4-3-3 which defends as a 4-4-2, with Maitland-Niles at right-back.
Che Adams has had a shot already, booting one from long range wide of the post.
Having been to both, I can confidently say that Highbury was infinitely cooler but the Emirates is a lot better. Toilets make all the difference.
Hasenhuttl says some things
Hasenhuttl easily bats away the generic pre-match questions he’s asked. We can summarise it as this:
I expect a tough game for us. Arsenal is still a team with massive quality.
Why don’t Arsenal score?
I wrote this a while ago and it holds up on why Arsenal look so tame in the final third these days.
Here’s a bit:
Everything is rigid Arteta constantly barks instructions from the sidelines, ensuring his players carry out their specific duties without time to rest. Alexandre Lacazette tends to be the focus of much of the manager’s shouting, with “Laca! Laca! Go Laca!” a consistent refrain heard during Arsenal matches as he orchestrates the forward press.
In the comforting walls of the training ground, Arteta can stop play, explain and correct certain things, but out on the pitch he must rely on players executing the plan for it to work. A concern for supporters starved for excitement in Arsenal games might be that the manager is seeking control of every possible eventuality in a match by limiting the room for randomness. This is most obvious in defensive phases, particularly as Arsenal press high up the pitch, but it bleeds in to how they attack too. Everything is highly structured with little room for improvisation.
Nothing particularly exciting from Arteta tonight.
“We have to freshen it up, we need some creativity, some goal threat, and other changes are because we need to change something, we need results.
“(It’s important to have) the capacity to channel that energy and play with a lot of passion but a cool head.
“The players have to start believing they can win football matches.
“We have to patient when the game requires it. This is the way we are going to approach this.”
Willian and Lacazette dropped
A few Arsenal fans I know had been talking up Lacazette in recent weeks and how he’s playing really well as a 10 in a change of position engineered by the manager, who is making so many alterations to his team on a weekly basis that it’s clear things aren’t right. If it were a video game you’d think Arteta would just dinghy a good heap of them in the next window and play the kids.
Lacazzette is a goal poacher, not a 10. It makes no sense trying to change him at this stage of his career. Willian has struggled, yes, but the entire team has. At first they were too rigid and denied creativity, now Arteta’s trying to give them freedom and it’s all falling apart.
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Theo Walcott vs his old club
Dion Dublin is wearing the world’s thickest glasses tonight but in match related news, Theo Walcott returns to his old club, having left as a player deemed not good enough for Arsenal. Now… is that the case?
Probably actually, but it is nuts how Arsenal have become so poor so quickly. Would a different manager get more out of this group of players? I’m starting to think yes. In fact, do you know who’d be really good as Arsenal manager? Arsene Wenger.
Bit of breaking news for you
It’s not related to either team playing tonight but… John Percy has this breaking news:
Sam Allardyce has been confirmed as the new head coach of West Bromwich Albion, following the dismissal of Slaven Bilic.
That’s right. Big Sam is Back!
Here’s how the teams look tonight:
And I’ve no idea what shape Arsenal are playing but it could either be a 4-3-3 or a 3-4-3, with Maitland-Niles at right-back? Who knows. Arteta’s all over the place just now.
There is so much football
So much. Everywhere you look: football. Football here, there, everywhere and now it’s available to watch on the same website that you buy Kindle books from. There is no escape. You’re looking at buying some superglue WATCH WEST BROM VS MAN CITY then you’re considering watching a bit more of Mr Robot (which is really good by the way) and as you’re about to hit play YOU SHOULD BE WATCHING ARSENAL VS SOUTHAMPTON.
Shoud we complain? This is what we wanted isn’t it? Infinite football, nonstop Premier League action, all the players all the time. The 15 year old me is delighted.
As for the game tonight, back in the days when there were only a few matches available a week to watch this would have been an easy win for Arsenal but in 2020, Southampton are by far the better team. Just look at the league table!
This is what Mikel Arteta says about their ‘blip’ in form:
“At the moment, I’m sorry, but we have to take the bullets.
“Dropping and dropping down the table is not the situation we want to be in. But this is our reality right now and we have to face it.
“We have to face it being brave, fighting and no-one giving up or anything.
“It’s not time to hide – it’s time to put your face and body on the line.”
Ralph Hasenhuttl is quietly establishing himself as one of the best coaches in the entire Premier League, turning Southampton into a genuinely exciting team who can more than hold their own against the big boys. Their fixture list has been fairly kind so far though, and if Arsenal can figure out a way to keep them quiet and play their way out of the high press, Arteta’s players might be able to have a bit of fun tonight.
It’s unlikely. Southampton will be well prepared and ready for everything that comes their way.
Kick off is at 6pm and you can watch on Amazon Prime, or just read along here to get some live analysis.