Three Points Sealed With A Kiss At St. Mary’s

Nearly 14 years ago, Robert Pires’ goal in the 39th minute gave Arsenal a victory at St. Mary’s. Little did he know that would be the club’s last time taking max points in a league match there, until 2017. That season, Arsenal went on to win the title with 90 points, a point total they are very far from this time around.

At this point in the season, Arsenal supporters are used to being knee deep in the top four battle.

Every point is crucial, the supporters are used to the frustrations, and most important of all, more often than not, Spu*s would already be in the rear-view mirror. Unfortunately, all those traditions have gone to sh*t, similar to Bellerin’s form.

I had to watch the match after the fact, except this time I already knew the result. Normally I avoid all social media, and have my text messages pre-screened if I fear it could have something to do with match, but this time, I wasn’t interested in all of that. Watching was a lot less stressful, but it also took away some of the excitement.

Periodically I’d pause the match and take notes, my wife continuously looked at me like I was a weirdo.

You’d think she would be used to this by now, but then I thought about it… She’s normally in the other room when I’m watching Arsenal because a) I swear too much, or at least that’s what she says, b) In her words, you’re ridiculous, and c) she likes watching footy just as much as I like watching the Lifetime Network.

As you would imagine, there weren’t many notes taken in that first half.

Arsenal played at an average pace, which has been common lately, making Southampton’s defensive duties very simple.

Mesut Ozil and Alexis weren’t very involved in that first half, and when they were, they kept things very simple. Most of the team’s offense came from Oxlade-Chamberlain, who once again, showed that he’s enjoying his role in this new formation, until injury struck again.

Bellerin’s introduction into the match meant that we’d now have a player with equal, if not better pace, defensively should be better, but offensively, not as creative. With his dip in form the second half of the season, the only creativity Bellerin is bringing to the pitch is his teenager-esque mustache, and questionable hairstyles. His performance didn’t turn out to be all that bad, but he’s still miles off his early season form.

The only other note I made in that first half was on the play when Gabbiadini got in behind the Arsenal defenders, forcing Cech to make a tight save.

Arsenal’s midfield wasn’t applying pressure, therefore, Mustafi should have noticed that and dropped off a bit, eliminating that ball over the top. Instead, a complete mental lapse nearly led to Southampton’s goal, which they hadn’t really done much to warrant. Sure, you can say they had the better of the chances in the first half, they never really looked all that threatening, or at least that was my opinion.

NBC Sports’ halftime discussions brought more of the usual, which isn’t all that surprising.

If Arsenal goes into the break tied, their analysis is always the same. Arsenal is playing very slow, not going at defenders, blah blah blah. In the event of them trailing at the break, it gets more interesting. They just simply aren’t good enough, Arsene Wenger has to go, the players aren’t good enough, blah blah blah. And when they are leading; Arsenal has been fantastic, it’s great to watch, Ozil has been amazing, blah blah blah.

Sure, Arsenal has been known to have slow starts, but it’s always looked at in a negative way for Arsenal.

Southampton were quite compact at the back, and they were well organized defensively.

I too have been one who continuously would say that they just needed to move the ball faster, but that’s not always possible depending how disciplined and organized the opposing team is. Southampton held their own well at Anfield last weekend, and they did a lot of the same against Arsenal. You can have the ball, but we’ll make it real difficult for you to get anything going in our final third was their mentality.

In the second half, Arsenal had no choice but to up the tempo, or at least attempt to.

Surprisingly, either Southampton’s players got tired from all the running they were putting in off the ball, or their tactics changed at the break.

They weren’t as organized off the ball, creating all sorts of gaps for Arsenal to exploit. Looked more like the mentality of a club who are nearing the end of the season, and don’t really have much else to play for. Arsenal is in town, let’s go out in the second half and play a bit more offensive. This chasing the ball bullsh*t isn’t fun.

That change in mentality or tactics allowed for six passes to carve open Southampton, resulting in Alexis Sanchez making two defenders look helpless. As if his beautiful turn at the edge of the 18-yard box wasn’t enough, his fake shot took two defenders out of the play, as he calmly slotted a left footed strike past Forster. Pick that one out of the net suckahhh!

Making that goal even better was the fact that the Chilean gave the Arsenal badge on his jersey a few taps, and went over to celebrate with the supporters. Don’t leave us Alexis. You hear me?!

From there on out they looked much more comfortable in the match.

Xhaka continued to control the center of the park, Holding showed why Arsene Wenger signed him, and Ramsey silenced me, again!

He’s far from a favorite of mine, and although he provides a late run into the box from the midfield, I just can’t get myself to understand why Arsene Wenger has so much confidence in him. In my eyes, he’s average. In the eyes of celebrities, he’s a murderer.

Today his performance wasn’t all that bad, and then he came up with that assist for Giroud.

When Alexis floated that ball into the back post and I noticed Ramsey was going to get on the end of it, so many thoughts ran through my head.

He’s going to try some stupid acrobatic kick, sending the ball into crowd. Maybe he’ll try to take it down on his chest, but his touch will let him down, and the ball will roll out for a goal kick. Or, what if he tries to catch it on a volley, completely slicing the ball, falling over on his a**, leading to Alexis freaking out and cursing in Spanish from across the pitch?

Instead, it was like he was reading my mind.

A floated header found the beautiful hair of Giroud, who easily guided the ball into the back of the net. Giroud was all alone, so my first thought was that he would be ruled offside, but that wasn’t the case.

The Frenchman was just as grateful of Ramsey’s pass, that he gave the Welshman a kiss on the neck. Of course, I can’t for the life of me find the full video that shows it after the replay, and I’ve already deleted the match from my DVR. Just my luck! But, if you happen to catch the highlights that shows the full celebration, you can’t miss it.

Now, after this much needed win, my fear is that it’s still going to be too late.

City hosts Leicester on Saturday, and Liverpool travels to London to take on West Ham. Klopp’s men haven’t been very consistent this season, so I think our only hope of finishing in the top four is up to the Hammers getting some sort of points on Sunday. If Arsenal could get the job done on Saturday against Stoke City, it would really put some pressure on Liverpool. This will likely be the deciding factor because they then host Middlesbrough in their final match of the season, and we all know The Boro won’t have anything to play for by then.

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