In the early afternoon on Sunday, in round 17 of the Premier League, Arsenal travelled to the south coast of England to play Southampton at the St. Mary’s Stadium.
The Gunners were on a high after beating Qarabag in the Europa League on Thursday and making it to the second phase of the competition. Unai Emery fielded a strong team with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi in attack.
It was Southampton who played better in the first part of the game, which they were rewarded for when Danny Ings headed home in the 20th minute to give the Saints a 1:0 lead. This was the first header Southampton scored this season. The Saints kept on attacking, giving Arsenal no room to breathe, but it was the Gunners who scored next. It was the 28th minute – Iwobi performed a nice pass to Nacho Monreal, who in turn puts it into the path of Mkhitaryan who manages to head the ball past Alex McCarthy. The score was 1:1 at that point.
Both teams had chances before Nathan Redmond found Danny Ings again who once again headed the ball into the net and out of the reach of Bernd Leno, the Gunners goalie. Two headers for Ings and a 2:1 lead to Southampton going into the break.
At the restart, Emery immediately brings in Alexandre Lacazette in to replace Hector Bellerin. Eight minutes later it paid off. Lacazette jumped on a loose ball and passes it to Mkhitaryan who shoots the ball which deflects off Jannik Vestergaard on the way past the goalkeeper who went to the other side. The score was level once again and it looked like Arsenal would have another strong second half.
Both sides made a change around the 70th minute. Arsenal took Iwobi out and brought Mesut Özil in, while Southampton replaces Stuart Armstrong with Charlie Austin. Iwobi played well after the recent critics but couldn’t find the finishing touch. For the Saints, it was an inspired decision to bring Austin who latched onto a deep cross in the 85th minute and put the ball into the net.
This was the Saints’ third headed goal in the season but more importantly, their third goal of the game which gave them their first victory after a 14-game winning drought, at the same time ending Arsenal’s 22-game unbeaten run.
With these three points, Southampton are out of the relegation zone, at least until the next match which will be a six-pointer as they meet fellow strugglers Huddersfield Town. Arsenal have a tough match ahead at home to the in-form Tottenham.