First of all, I’d like to apologise for the lack of posts in the past few months. Free time is a scarce commodity for me right now and I need to put both my family and work before Arsenal (blimey, I think I’m growing up!) I try to post as often as I can but unfortunately, it’s not as often as I’d like.
Anyway, on to the game and what a horrific first half performance that was — I am honestly struggling to think of one worse. We started sluggishly and never asserted ourselves at any point. Southampton were in total control and it took us until the 44th minute to register a goal attempt when Koscielny’s close range effort was pushed away by Boruc, who had done well to stay awake up until that point.
Southampton had got the opener their play deserved when Monreal was outjumped by Fonte, who nodded them ahead after 20 minutes. Their young striker Gallagher should’ve made it 2-0 soon after but skewed his effort wide from only six yards. We should be thankful that neither Lambert nor Osvaldo were available last night.
Monreal was at fault for that chance and he made a couple of other poor errors. I think Gibbs is a better left back, not least because he offers more going forward, but Wenger seems to prefer Monreal at the moment. Whether that is because he’s trying to protect the injury prone Gibbs or he genuinely believes in Monreal, I’m not sure. All I know is that on current form I’d be more comfortable seeing Gibbs in the back four.
Somebody obviously had strong words in the dressing room at the break as Arsenal appeared far more determined as the second half kicked off, so much so that they found themselves 2-1 up after 52 minutes. First Giroud did brilliantly to touch in Sagna’s driven cross before Cazorla swerved Ozil’s pass into the far corner.
Unfortunately we let them straight back in it when Rodriguez found an unmarked Lallana (who was Man of the Match for me) and the England hopeful gleefully slotted home. If only we’d held the lead for a bit longer we might have gone on to win, but to be fair 2-2 at that stage flattered us.
The rest of the game was more even and I can’t help thinking that if we’d approached both halves the way we played the second half we’d have won. Apparently the team arrived at the ground late but that’s no excuse for not performing at all for 45 minutes.
A plus point during our better second half was the performance of Ozil. He went on one barnstorming run showing pace and tenacity that hasn’t been evident for some time and was unlucky to see his deflected shot come back off the bar. It was much better stuff from the German, both in terms of attitude and application, and I hope it’s a sign he’s adapting to the Premier League. Don’t forget Mertesacker was mediocre in his first season, but is now one of the league’s standout defenders. If Ozil can show the same kind of improvement next season we’re in for a treat.
Any hopes we had of nicking the three points disappeared down the tunnel along with Flamini in the 80th minute when he was shown a straight red for a two footed lunge. Nobody came anywhere near getting hurt in the incident, but you just can’t tackle like that and he should’ve known better. Thankfully we held firm and took a fortunate, but potentially priceless point from a fixture which will certainly trouble our rivals.
So we could be off the top by the time Crystal Palace visit on Saturday. Tony Pulis has constructed a well drilled defensive unit and we will have to be right on our game to break it down. Obviously that means turning up for the whole match, not just the second half — fingers crossed lessons have been learned from tonight.
Follow oohtobeagooner on Facebook
for more latest Arsenal transfer news, injury news, team news and rumours.