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This morning saw me set off for my second live game of the season, hoping it would go rather better than had the first. It did.

I fear this match is not destined to live long in the memory. Indeed even now, only eight hours after it kicked off, I have no clear recollection of the game, so what follows is a set of probably disjointed snapshots of the action.

The match started slowly for the Arsenal, with Southampton having the ball for long periods without doing anything much with it. An early Arsenal attack ended with Lacazette flat on his back in the Southampton box – no foul. In another early attack, Saka was pulled back in the penalty area but managed to keep his feet although he had been sufficiently slowed down that the ball ran out for a goal kick; again no foul. In a similar area, Saka was booked following an incident that from across the pitch looked particularly innocuous. It’s a relief to know that all regulations were scrupulously followed.

After a little more than 20 minutes, Saka again running down the right hand side of the penalty area passed the ball to Lacazette who got his shot away and on target. 1-0 to the Arsenal.

Any Southampton rally was short-lived as around five minutes later Tierney took the ball to the goal line on the left of the penalty area but his attempt to cross the ball along the six-yard line failed. Somehow he regained possesion and tried again to find a team-mate in a more central area. Again he failed but again he managed to retain or regain possession. For a third time he tried to cross the ball, successfully this time and Ødegaard scored with a smart header.

I recall little more of note happening in the first half.

The second half was a little more open. A lovely quick-passing movement from one end of the pitch to the other ended when everyone’s favourite Albanian Swiss fired high, wide and not particularly handsomely from the left side of the panalty D early on. This is not to say that everything Xhaka did was bad, he played plenty of quick balls forwards during the game and did stirling work organising those around him.

Southampton also managed to get their act together sufficiently to draw a couple of saves from Ramsdale – one diving to his right and one leaping backwards and pushing up a hand to deflect the ball over the bar. There was even a period of sustained Arsenal pressure that must have lasted several minutes – as many, perhaps, as three.

Gabriel had the ball in the net at the far post following a corner out on the left but the referee disallowed it for offside – a decision I found surprising given how long the ball seemed to have been bobbling around but one which was supported by VAR. However, this was to prove only a temporary respite for Southampton as the same player scored with a header following another corner from the left only a few minutes later.

And so the match wound down. Capitola Rob came on for the goalscorer a few minutes after the third goal went in and later took the armband when Pepe replaced Lacazette in the dying minutes.

I noticed that all 20 outfield players were compressed in an 18-yard deep rectangle half the width of the pitch for every goal-kick by either side. I’ve never noticed this tactic before and can’t work out what it means in terms of either team’s perceived ability to spread the play when they receive the ball. I was also struck by an apparently very conscious effort by the Arsenal team, particularly early in the first half, to slow things down when a Southampton attach broke down – the experts in the row behind me remarked after the first goal showed that it showed what happens when you move the ball quickly; I wondered whether the quick movement would be as effective if you don’t lull the opposition into a sense of security by moving the ball really, really sloooooowly for 20 minutes or so first. I suspect there’s some truth in both views.

In summary, the Arsenal did what they had to do in this match without looking particularly impressive. Even without looking at the league table, I think it would have been clear to any passing alien (who happened to be a Premier League football fan) that neither of the teams on the pitch are likely to win the title this season. That’s the sort of thing that happens when a team is in transition, though, isn’t it?

Finally, I must admit that some wine and cheese was consumed following the match.

61 Drinks to “Arsenal Get the Job Done”

  1. 1
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks Pangloss, hope the wine and cheese went down better than the first 20 minutes.
    To be fair to Soton they pressed well at the start and we struggled to break through, ceding a lot of cheap possession with careless passing (Xhaka by no means the only culprit to be fair to him too, though Dennis knows he makes it difficult). Fortunately they are the third worst attack in the PL goals wise and it showed. Once we finally broke the press with some great passing for an excellent team goal the game was done. A better 2nd half and we won at a canter in the end, nice header from Gabriel to make bt8 two of two in his preview predictions for goalscorers and a welcome clean sheet. Job done as you say Pangloss.

  2. 2
    bt8 says:

    Thanks for the report Pangloss, and I’m glad you enjoyed the day out despite the nasty weather. Matt, I thought about changing the name of my FFL team to Idiot Savants but decided it would put too much pressure on the players. 🙂

  3. 3
    OsakaMatt says:

    Just looked and those bottlers have shot into 3rd, the CL beckons

  4. 4
    Ollie says:

    Cheers Pangloss.
    A non-memorable win is preferable to a memorable loss as long as you had a nice day.
    Hope the cheese and wine were nice.

  5. 5
    Countryman100 says:

    Nice job Pangloss. Sorry you picked a day when the weather was so foul but I can’t agree that the game was forgettable. That first goal, a real beauty, will live long in the memory.

  6. 6
    Countryman100 says:

    Here’s Arseblog this morning on that first goal. As always, the whole column is worth five minutes of your time but I particularly enjoyed this.

    “And then we scored one of the counter-attacking goals of the season. The wonderful Aaron Ramsdale, who if he is ever orphaned and needs to be adopted I will gladly take care of him, played the ball to Ben White who gave it back inside to Thomas Partey. He zipped it with real pace to Takehiro Tomiyasu (that pace was important) who went inside to Martin Odegaard who returned it to the right back. From there, Tomi fed Bukayo Saka down the right, and I’ve often heard people wonder why we don’t go after James Ward-Prowse in the transfer market but if we wanted a player who is as slow as me, just sign me. Saka didn’t even really need to put the burners on, drove down the right hand side, and crossed it into the box where Alexandre Lacazette gave the move the finish it deserved by sticking the ball with real intent into the top right hand corner.

    It was an initially terrifying but then completely exhilarating goal. Was it somewhat against the run of play? Sure. Do I care? No. Because from there we began to remember we were a football team and not a motley collection of individuals who have just been gathered at random, explained the rules of Association Football and told to just go out there and entertain the crowd.”

  7. 7
    Countryman100 says:

    While I’m drinking my coffee and reading reports on yesterday’s game, here’s the always interesting Mike McDonald at Gunners Town.

    Arsenal Bingo: The Unpredictables seize the Win over So’ton in vital confidence boost [ARS 3-0 SOU]

  8. 8
    Las says:

    Cbeers Pangloss nice job.
    Before the game I thought any win would do but after I am not sure. A win is a win but before the first goal during the first 20 something odd minutes I think a saw the worst football an Arsenal side ever produced.
    I went back and forth on the record and we lost possession 5 times during the first 8 minutes (Gabriel twice, White…) Ramesdale called to action twice we weren’t able to get out of our half. And it was against So’ton not Bayern Muninch.
    I don’t know…. what to do with this win

  9. 9
    Countryman100 says:

    Las. It is of course your right to have whatever view you like, but I completely disagree with your comments. Yes we had a dodgy first fifteen, but after scoring one of the best goals seen for years, we completely dominated the match, hit the post three times and could have won 6-0. We did win 3-0 and had the cigars on for the last 30. I do not understand the negativity for this game. Everton yes, this game no.

  10. 10
    Las says:

    C100 @ 7 Thanks! Very good and out and out optimistic article.
    “Just that first 20 minutes, I wish I would forget…”

  11. 11
    Las says:

    C100 @ 9. Sure, you are right, we could have won by 6 goals.
    My only worry is that if it’s not So’ton we could have been behind by two.
    But the first goal was beauty. 🙂

  12. 12
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Enjoyable review Pangloss!

    First goal: 16 passes, 39 seconds (the buildup included a bit of playing around at the back before Ramsdale fizzed it forward). A perfect Arsenal goal.

    Gabi deserved a goal. Not for the first time his run through the middle in a counter attack and then setting Laca up with a perfectly weighted pass was wasted by the veteran. A peak Laca or Auba would have buried that. His corners were excellent as well. Our set pieces is an area where there are definite visible and measurable improvements and credits to the coaching team.

    The awful away loss at Everton can be partially compensated if we take maximum points from the next two matches. I think everyone here agrees that Xhaka-Partey may find oppositions like the hammers or the Leeds not as saintly in forgiving the sloppiness on the ball and the slowness of movements. Let’s hope either they justify the trust in them by Mikel or we get to see Sambi back in the starting eleven ahead of Granit.

  13. 13
    TTG says:

    I’m on the more optimistic train in relation to yesterday . But I must caveat my remarks as I wasn’t there and only saw it via a stream ( more of a trickle actually)
    The first twenty minutes happened ( cue long-playing record ) because we couldn’t escape their press because we have a slow ponderous midfield who misplaced passes everywhere and we relied on Ramsdale to keep it scoreless. I would have to agree that our first goal took me back to peak Wenger and proves that if you play pass and move football quickly and precisely you can beat any press. Note our central midfielders were bypassed in this build-up . It was a superb team goal
    It represented a massive turning-point and thereafter I thought we played increasingly well. We hit the woodwork twice and Martinelli gave us an aggression and incisiveness that Auba hasn’t for a long time . Odegaard played very well too. I also really like Tomiyasu.
    I found it interesting that Pangloss picked out Xhaka for special mention on a day when he was comfortably our least distinguished player. He did very little above and beyond the banal and he did it very slowly. Partey improved from a nightmare start.
    I envied those who went despite the weather and suspect I would have enjoyed a couple of celebratory glasses of decent red or malt ( or both ) last night . It proved we can play without ESR but it was only Southampton .

  14. 14
    Bathgooner says:

    A fine distillation of the key moments of the game, Pangloss. I’m surprised you can recall even that detail 8 hours post match without any review after a fine Italian meal.

    So far I have only seen the match on MotD and therefore have only the tape editor’s view of the balance of play and the key moments. I have the 90 minutes recorded from Sky’s 2am broadcast. Delighted as I was with the win, I was not motivated enough to burn the midnight oil to watch at that hour.

    I will however observe that we ought to beat a poor Saints team missing key players at our place and while the first goal was a thing of beauty, there’s a bigger game midweek that is a better test of this team.

  15. 15
    North Bank Ned says:

    Your report captures the episodic and intermittent nature of the game very cleverly, Pangloss. A comfortable win in the end, but not getting punished during a sloppy opening 20 mins helped immeasurably.

    C100@previous drinks: I had not taken the weather into account. One gets little sense of how heavily it is raining when watching a broadcast. The players and managers look wet when seen in close-ups or drying the ball before a throw-in, but much of the rest of the time the cameras manage to make it look like it is not raining at all.

  16. 16
    Doctor Faustus says:

    TTG@13: It was rather striking how much of our game was bypassing the middle. The first 15 minutes I think told the rest of the team that they can’t rely on the midfield duo, error strewn and ponderous as they were, and smartly found a solution for that problem.

    At some point of time in the season it would be great to see a front four of Ødegaard-ESR-Saka-Gabi . Gabi down the middle against any defensive pair that doesn’t have pace in their favor would be exciting because he will just drive at them again and again, and would have the courage and skills to dribble through.

  17. 17
    North Bank Ned says:

    That could be an electrifying front four, Dr F. Ødegaard is the slowest of the quartet and he is no slouch.

  18. 18
    Bathgooner says:

    Dr F @16, I do believe that could well be our front-line in the near future. Auba’s self destructive behaviour may well hasten that development.

  19. 19
    TTG says:

    Our problems would be significantly alleviated if Martinelli can adapt to that central role . He is still raw as his response to that wonderful pass by Ramsdale showed but he has shown a step up in development over the last few weeks . Pace and quality on the ball are the key determinants IF you have control of the ball. Man City show what is possible without a big focal point and lots of technical players with pace . That is the big challenge for us . We have to get a stronger and quicker central core .
    It was interesting to read the clip from Arseblog that C100 attached earlier where he critiques Ward- Prowse’s lack of pace . We are similarly handicapped unless we use AMN who is very quick. He and Sambi might be a feasible pair

  20. 20
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Cheers Pangloss. I love your style. And wine and cheese. 👌

    I missed the whole game and only saw highlights hours later, so I was especially gutted to read:

    “This is not to say that everything Xhaka did was bad, he played plenty of quick balls forwards during the game and did stirling work organising those around him.”

    What were the chances that one of the few games I have missed seeing him in was a game when this statement could be made about his play?
    I hope he keeps it up. I’ve never seen him play plenty of quick balls forward. Or organise those around him.

    All I have ever seen is him shout a lot (at times it has no effect but looks good on camera) and play slow balls in the wrong direction. And, of course, (and I do apologise for stating the obvious) make pointless fouls that get heavily punished.

  21. 21
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Mind you, he is my first choice for fourth choice left-back backup.
    And it’s great that he practices playing left back mid-game, just in case, even if some naysayers suggest that a central midfielder should have the fitness and positioning to adopt appropriate positions for a central midfielder. What a load of killjoys.

  22. 22
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    If Mike Dean fails to oust Mike Riley as head of PGMOL he should head over to Formula One.

    It’s another sport where only a bloke called Mike is allowed to make disgracefully unsporting decisions with impunity.

    As all Gooners know, and as was amply demonstrated today, God is evidently Dutch.

  23. 23
    Sancho Panza says:

    I find it hard to call F1 a sport. I’d rather clean my oven without protective gloves.

  24. 24
    Uplympian says:

    Thanks PG for your match report submitted in its unique style. It’s always good to get a view from someone actually at the game who can pick up a view of the whole stage in front of them rather than just camera close ups. This can often give a different perspective on how particular players perform.
    After the first 20 mins in which we were fortunate to still be on level terms, that wonderful first goal changed the complexion of the game and put to rest ( albeit temporarily) the angst of the previous 2 losses. As Bath suggests above, the game on Wednesday against the impressive hammers will be a much better observation of our status and aspirations.

  25. 25
    North Bank Ned says:

    SP@23: I suggest you get a self-cleaning oven…

  26. 26
    North Bank Ned says:

    GSD@22: Talking of referees, I thought that Jarred Gillett had a pretty decent game on Saturday. He was, as predicted, quick to flash the yellow card (minutes 3 and 17) but neither side could have any complaints about the way he handled the game.

  27. 27
    TTG says:

    GSD @20 and Ned@26
    I agree with both of you 😀

  28. 28
    North Bank Ned says:

    Who knew it was Norwegians-head-a-goal-for-Arsenal weekend? Ødegaard’s on Saturday and two from Maanum for the women’s team on Sunday. You won’t see a much better cross and header all season than the fourth goal.

    (Don’t be put off by the editing mistake after the first goal which cuts to the final whistle before going back to the rest of the game.)

  29. 29
    bathgooner says:

    Having now had the opportunity to watch the full 93 minutes of that match, I am pleased with the performance of the team. The first 15-20 minutes were certainly very jittery and we had to rely on the skills of our goalkeeper to keep us in the game. It’s quite possible that that was a hangover from Goodison and the Old Toilet but we persevered and the pass and move for the first goal was exquisite though in the early stage of the move there were a couple of close shaves that could have ended badly. There’s no doubt we deserved the 3-0 victory and could well have had more.

    There was an excellent second half spell after the third goal where we applied more consistent pressure for 5-10 minutes than I have seen us produce for a long time other than when we are desperately trying to salvage a game late on. That was very nice to see from a team that has acquired a reputation for spinelessly trying to hang on to a one goal lead. The defensive work throughout the match from all 10 outfield players was very impressive and we hunted in packs to close down the ball carrier and closed off his options very well.

    After the first goal Southampton were increasingly abject until a very late flurry that called for a couple more saves from Ramsdale.

    Ramsdale, Tomiyasu, Ødegaard, Saka, Lacazette and Martinelli were outstanding. The latter’s drive and energy are a major asset to the team and if maintained may end Auba’s Arsenal career. KT3 looked more like his old self than at Goodison. Xhaka just looked like his old self.

    West Ham’s visit will be more of a test.

  30. 30
    Countryman100 says:

    I was disappointed that there was no tribute to Ray Kennedy at Saturdays game. They managed one at Liverpool and Swansea. There was a tribute in the programme and on the website but not at the ground. Poor show.

  31. 31
    ClockEndRider says:

    C100, I was expecting that too.

  32. 32
    bathgooner says:

    Agreed, C100 @30. I was very surprised that a player who scored two of the most important goals in the club’s history wasn’t given a minute’s silence or applause on his passing. I note that someone who contacted the club was told that their view was that a two page tribute in the programme was appropriate. Poor show, really.

  33. 33
    bathgooner says:

    But of course, football only began with Sky’s inception of the Premier League!

  34. 34
    Ollie says:

    Quite, baff. We were all born in 1992. Or something.
    And you have to laugh at UEFA cocking up the CL draw. We used to be in it though. *sighs*

  35. 35
    bt8 says:

    No doubt those incompetent slime balls will try to blame it all on Arshavin, Ollie.


  36. 36
    bt8 says:

    Re: The lack of a tribute to Ray Kennedy. An article in the program would have been seen by what small fraction of the entire crowd that would have observed a moment of silence? This is a sad oversight by the club.

  37. 37
    Ollie says:

    Yeah, not sure how many people get the programme these days.
    I’ve stopped getting them years ago (well OK, I’ve stopped coming over since COVID, but that’s a different thing…).
    A minute of silence certainly would have seemed more appropriate (or applause indeed, whatever is in vogue these days, like bath I’m not going to be an ideologist about this).
    Collective memory is very important and it’s a shame the club has…forgotten that.

  38. 38
    TTG says:

    I meant to ask if Ray was remembered on Saturday. He should undoubtedly have been and it will have upset remaining members of the side that he wasn’t. I will be writing to Vinai. Arsenal do things better than that .
    I watched a longer version of the game and am ad idem with Bath. I thought it was quite an interesting game and the second half performance was very encouraging. A lot of people I have discussed the game with suggest that Ramsdale lifted the team . That’s a big achievement from a chap eighty yards away from the forwards . But I still don’t think goalies should be skipper.
    The Christmas Gooner is out and the mood is still pretty positive even if it’s accepting of the fact that we are a long way behind the very best teams .

  39. 39
    TTG says:

    My letter to Vinai will also refer to the Junior Gunner Christmas package which has been despatched this year. My grandson cut himself on a tatty battered Arsenal Cup while opening it and the enclosures are very mediocre . My daughter compared it very unfavourably to the Junior S***s stuff that her other offspring received which she said was far superior …….and safer . A small point but sort of symptomatic of standards under KSE

  40. 40
  41. 41
    bathgooner says:

    Better late than never but still symptomatic of flawed priorities. A club that forgets its history except when it’s useful to generate income isn’t the Arsenal of old.

  42. 42
    North Bank Ned says:

    Better late than never, TTG et al. There was a time when the club did these sorts of things in both the right way and at the right time. Perhaps to those running the club, Ray Kennedy seems as distant a figure as, say, George Swindin, Walley Barnes or Joe Mercer are to some of us in this fine establishment.

  43. 43
    North Bank Ned says:

    bath@41: we seem to be of the same mind, with yours working faster than mine…

  44. 44
    North Bank Ned says:

    Ollie@34: Typical UEFA sliminess to blame the software of an external vendor. You use it, you own it.

  45. 45
    Countryman100 says:

    Ah glad to hear that TTG. Better late than never.

  46. 46
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Our loaned out defenders are continuing to do very well.

    Mavropanos scored his 5th goal of the season (yes, that’s right, 5 goals!) with a stunner against Wolfsburg. https://youtu.be/relWtUZU7UM

    Saliba helped Marseille to wins in Ligue 1 and Europa.

    In other loaned out player news, Reiss too got his first goal for Feyenoord, in Europa. This is extended highlights and his goal is around the 68th minute. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXmgcyi0yEs

  47. 47
    bt8 says:

    Mavro screamer! Can he replicate that on the other side o’ the channel?

  48. 48
    bt8 says:

    Well taken goal by Reiss Nelson if the defenders seemed to be avidly backing away, but he also nearly assisted on the next passage of play, and I believe also on a ball from midfield a couple of passages later. 👍🏼

  49. 49
    Las says:

    Mavro screamer :)))) really is. What a goal!

  50. 50
    bt8 says:

    Accepts wall pass. Bangs home.

  51. 51
    TTG says:

    Mavropanos won’t play for us again. We’ve agreed a deal for the princely sum of around £6m with Stuttgart . That Edu strikes a tough deal doesn’t he?Mavropanos despite his scoring feats is a bit of a sick note and is regularly injured but he looked a decent player when I saw him. I think we may get £13m for Torreira and a relative pittance for Guendouzi despite him being in the French squad .
    We are apparently looking to unload Lacazette, Nketiah and Auba . We will get very little in transfer fees but it will cut a lot off the wage bill

  52. 52
    OsakaMatt says:

    66 games in six seasons does support the sick note conclusion TTG.

  53. 53
    Countryman100 says:

    November goal of the month. Could only be one winner.

  54. 54
    TTG says:

    This piece suggests that the princely sum of 6 million Euros ( not £) is double what we will get for Mavropanos and that he will be sold on for €25 m after being bought from us . I used to fire people for setting up deals like that !

    Arsenal set to miss out on 20 million euros after transfer blunder

  55. 55
    Countryman100 says:

    Aubameyang stripped of Captaincy and will not play tomorrow. I support this decision.

  56. 56
    Countryman100 says:

  57. 57
    OsakaMatt says:

    So we took a hard line then, I’d best get on with a short rewrite of tomorrow’s preview

  58. 58
    North Bank Ned says:

    Arteta is laying down his authority strongly. We know little about the circumstances of the underlying offence, but it is difficult to criticise the manager for upholding the principle that the rules apply to all. Auba’s form must have made the decision easier to make. TTG may have been prophetic in an earlier drink that we may never see Auba play for us again.

    re Mavropanos, fair value for him would be 10-15 million euros, which is also about Auba’s market value. Guendouzi is the one we will take a beating on. He is worth 20-30 million euros in the open market. Torriera is valued at around 7 million euros. Getting double that for him would be good business.

  59. 59
    North Bank Ned says:

    OM@57: 🙂

  60. 60
    North Bank Ned says:

    Selling Auba (£250,000 a week), Torriera (£75,000), Guendouzi (£40,000) and Mavropanos (£25,000) would get £20.3 million off the annual wage bill. Selling Laca (£182,000) would add £9.5 million to the savings, although his salary will drop off the wage bill when his contract expires this summer.

    If Auba leaves in January, I would expect Laca to be kept except in the unlikely events of a silly offer for him or a top quality striker coming in.

  61. 61
    scruzgooner says: