It’s not often that Arsenal defeat Southampton as of late, and it didn’t look like that trend would change on Saturday. Supporters took their seats at the Emirates on a rainy afternoon, full of excitement to see both Mustafi and Lucas Perez make their debuts in North London. While the debutants will clearly need time to adapt to the pace of the Premier League, Santi Cazorla showed that although he may not have a price tag of £80m attached to his jersey, he sure as hell played like he did.
But, before we can talk about how it all ended, there’s a lot of talking points to cover.
Where Is Pre-Season Ox?
Although we all know that Oxlade-Chamberlain has the necessary attributes to be a great player, he’s that guy who more often than not will let you down. In order for him to put in one proper performance, he needs to let you down at least six to eight times.
He did score against Liverpool, but he now has three additional performances where he’s been below average. Therefore, if my judgement is accurate, we should see something from him maybe around the Chelsea match, or at home against Basel.
What’s difficult to understand is in pre-season, he’s untouchable, or at least it seems that way. He glides around defenders like they have their shoes tied together while scoring cheeky goals. You watch him before things get serious and you can’t help but think – oh hell yea, this is going to be the year of the Ox. Then, the season begins, and it’s like he’d been playing FIFA on beginner mode the whole time. It just doesn’t make sense to be honest. He has remarkable pace and is creative enough to go by defenders, yet he looks like an absolute amateur, which I think was the case again against Southampton.
When I think of Ox’s performance, two specific crosses come to mind. Unfortunately, both sailed over every Arsenal player, as well as the Southampton defenders. Not sure what the hell he was looking at, but the nearest player was at least 10 yards away.
Arsene Wenger is an experienced manager, so our only hope is that he can somehow trick Ox to believe that from now until May, all those fixtures are just for fun. Go out there and have some fun Ox, make us proud!
Laurent Koscielny, The Unbreakable Captain
Arsenal’s new skipper is a fan favorite already, but every week you can’t help but admire his passion and willingness to just carry on. Since joining the club, if my memory serves me correctly, Kos’ longest stint away from the team was in October 2014 with an Achilles injury. He was sidelined for about five weeks.
Apart from that, he’s had a lot of niggling injuries, some not appealing to the eye or sensitive stomach, but either way, he continues to bounce back.
If there’s one complaint I have about him, it’s that he’s not as vocal as he needs to be seeing as he’s the skipper, but this is new to him. Hopefully that will come with time.
Vocal or not, Kos The Boss let his skills do all the talking against the Saints. How could you not jump out of your seat after watching that goal?! I may have seen the highlight about 24.5 times. As the great Ray Hudson would say, magisterial stuff!
When he wasn’t showing off his acrobatics, defensively, he was up to the task more often than not. I guess we should cut him some slack today, as we should with Mustafi seeing as they had maybe two or three days of training together. There were a few moments that made me cringe, but for the most part, they sorted it out. To boot, he got cleated in the face and still came back on. Thankfully, Arsenal didn’t play the ball out when he was laying on the pitch near the Southampton goal. Instead, Giroud was taken down for a penalty, and then all the haters broke the internet!
Some will argue that Kos isn’t one of the best in the Premier League or even in the world at his position, but I’d have to respectfully disagree. Not only is he one of the best in the EPL, but he is going to form one of the best defensive partnerships with Mustafi this year. Count on it!
Santi Cazorla The Magician Is Pure Entertainment
Flying under the radar may be the best way to describe how Santi Cazorla operates. For those who watch and love Arsenal, we know his value within the squad. Unfortunately, for those who don’t follow as closely, they tend to talk about the big names, and look right over the little Spaniard’s head.
It wasn’t coincidental that after Santi got hurt last year Arsenal struggled to go on a run. He may be small in stature, but when he’s in the mood, I think he’s just as exciting to watch as Ozil or even Alexis.
Watching him carry the team up the field against the Saints was a thing of beauty. A simple drop of the shoulder while not even touching the ball opened up what looked to be the M3 right down the middle of the pitch. Next stop, Southampton!
Whether it’s his right or left foot, he can beat you with both. You think he’ll only help you on the offensive side of the ball? Think again!
I jumped out of my seat when he came up with a crucial defensive interception late in the second half. Arsenal was stretched as they pushed for the winning goal, and when Southampton broke on the counter-attack, all I could think was that we’d concede again. Well, Santi Cazorla was having none of that! He did it all, and even got the winning goal to cap off a sublime performance.
When he placed the ball on the penalty spot, did anyone doubt that he wouldn’t score? I certainly didn’t doubt him, but if you did, shame on you!
His display should not only motivate young players watching on TV, but should also motivate and inspire players like Ox or Iwobi who are trying to establish themselves in the squad. Santi isn’t the quickest and he certainly is far from the biggest, but his passion, understanding of the game and creativity allow him to completely control a match as he did on Saturday.
With a healthy Santi Cazorla and an in form supporting cast, Arsenal could achieve great things this season.