Saints' away run ends at Arsenal

By SFC Media time Sun 24 Feb Arsenal v Saints
Photo by Matt Watson
Sun 24 Feb 2.05PM
Premier League
Lacazette [6'] Mkhitaryan [17']
Referee: Graham Scott | Venue: Emirates Stadium | Attendance: 59,877

Southampton’s unbeaten away run in the Premier League was halted at four games, as Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side fell to a 2-0 defeat at Arsenal on Sunday afternoon.

Saints arrived at Emirates Stadium unbeaten on the road in 2019, but knowing that record was going to be put to a significant test against an Unai Emery side challenging for a top-four finish.

So it proved, as the Gunners roared into an early 2-0 lead and claimed a position from which they would not relinquish control.

Hasenhüttl made three changes for the game, notably bringing Angus Gunn back in goal, with Alex McCarthy dropping to the bench.

Matt Targett was also introduced for Ryan Bertrand at left wing-back, with the Saints boss again deploying three centre-backs, while Stuart Armstrong returned from injury in place of Shane Long, who missed out altogether.

It meant Redmond leading the line, and he nearly made full use of the position in just the sixth minute, as he raced onto a quick ball over the top from deep, putting him clear down the inside-right.

The angle meant that, as he sprinted into the area, he needed to cut back inside onto his left foot, with Shkodran Mustafi getting back to cover, but the movement opened up a glorious chance, only for Bernd Leno in the Arsenal goal to save his shot from close range.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 24: Nathan Redmond(L) of Southampton shoots at goal as his shot is saved by Bernd Leno during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Southampton FC at Emirates Stadium on February 24, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Nathan Redmond sees a big early chance at 0-0 saved by Bernd Leno

It was a pivotal moment, as the hosts immediately broke upfield and scored themselves.

The ball was worked to Alex Iwobi on the left, with his chipped cross falling to Henrikh Mkhitaryan at the back post. Mkhitaryan struck a left-footed volley back across goal, which was heading wide, but Alexandre Lacazette found himself positioned perfectly in its path and he diverted it with a flick into the back of the net.

There were protests from Saints for offside, but they fell on deaf ears.

Granit Xhaka’s dipping shot from 25 yards a few minutes later for a moment looked as though it had a chance of doubling the advantage, but it was just wide of the top corner, and, having survived that effort, Hasenhüttl’s men went back on the front foot.

In the space of a few seconds in the 14th minute they came close to equalising.

First, a Targett cross from the left picked out Redmond at the far post, and he nodded the ball cleverly back into the path of Armstrong, who sent his own header goalwards from a few yards out, only for Sead Kolašinac to make an excellent block.

As Arsenal then attempted to move the ball clear, Armstrong tracked back to win it again before playing a smart pass to Targett on the left edge of the area. He took a touch to set himself and did the right thing, sending a fizzing low shot towards the far corner, but Leno dived down to tip it away.

Again, as it had been in the opening minutes, Leno’s intervention was followed moments later by an Arsenal goal.

Under pressure, Jack Stephens was a little errant with a back-pass and, in trying to stop it going out for a corner, Gunn hit a low kick straight to Iwobi 30 yards out.

The Arsenal forward drove into the box and sent a low, square ball across, which found Mkhitaryan in space on the far side, and he side-footed home first time from about 16 yards.

20190224 Arsenal v Southampton
Alexandre Lacazette (hidden, right) diverts in Arsenal's opener

With each side having carved out two big chances, the score could well have been very different at the midway point of the half, but, after winning the battle of fine margins, it was the home side who were well in command at that stage.

They threatened to make it 3-0 on 26 minutes, as Lacazette was again found in the area, but, as he cut inside to shoot, Jan Bednarek slid back in to make a superb block.

After a frantic first half-an-hour, the game calmed a little, although Gunn had to save well down to his right to keep out Lacazette’s glancing header from a Xhaka corner on 39 minutes.

If that was a smart effort from the Arsenal forward, the one he produced seconds later was not so impressive.

After Saints only cleared Stephan Lichtsteiner’s cross to the edge of the area, Aaron Ramsey pounced on it, took a step forward and slid a brilliant ball to Lacazette, who controlled, but then somehow side-footed over from six yards.

And, when he was on target again, this time in the 42nd minute, his fierce low shot was repelled by the feet of Gunn.

The pressure was very much mounting again by this point, but Saints did at least manage to reach the interval without conceding a third that would surely have removed any doubt about the final result.

Hasenhüttl then made two changes at the break, as Stephens and Armstrong were removed, with Charlie Austin and Michael Obafemi being sent on.

Saints were gifted a chance to halve the deficit in the 52nd minute, as Xhaka made a dreadful error, attempting to play a lofted pass along the edge of his own area, only to send it straight to James Ward-Prowse. He chested it down and hit the ball on the half-volley, but it sliced agonisingly wide of the post from 18 yards.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 24: James Ward-Prowse of Southampton during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Southampton FC at Emirates Stadium on February 24, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
James Ward-Prowse reacts after going close to scoring

At the other end, Arsenal were still threatening to add to their total on occasions, but Hasenhüttl’s men were able to prevent them from creating any clear-cut chances.

Saints’ hopes of getting back into it suffered a blow on 65 minutes, though, as Obafemi, who was only introduced at half-time following two months on the sidelines, picked up an injury and had to depart the field, with Mohamed Elyounoussi being sent on in his place.

As the clock ticked past 70 minutes, Saints’ hopes were slim, but nonetheless alive, and Austin tested Leno with a looping header that the Arsenal keeper had to be alive to.

With 14 minutes left, Ward-Prowse had another chance to pull the visitors back into it, but his right-footed strike from 15 yards was blocked superbly by Kolašinac.

As the game entered the final few minutes, Arsenal went in search of a third, and only an excellent Gunn save prevented substitute Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from sending a right-footed effort into the back of the net after dancing into space just inside the area.

With two minutes left, Saints nearly breathed some hope back into the game, as Targett put a brilliant strike on a rising ball 20 yards out, only for Leno to fling himself to his right and get enough on it to tip it wide.

The result leaves Southampton third from bottom, but with a chance to potentially change that as soon as Wednesday, when 19th-placed Fulham are the visitors on a big night at St Mary’s.


Head to Head Stats

  • Possession (%)
    comparison angle
  • Shots
    comparison angle
  • Shots on target
    comparison angle
  • Corners
    comparison angle
  • Passes Complete
    comparison angle


Bernd Leno (GK)
Stephan Lichtsteiner
replace Laurent Koscielny (56′)
Sead Kolasinac
Shkodran Mustafi
Alex Iwobi
replace Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (75′)
Lucas Torreira
Henrikh Mkhitaryan goal
Granit Xhaka
Aaron Ramsey (C)
replace Mesut Özil (63′)
Alexandre Lacazette goal
Mesut Özil
Denis Suárez
Matteo Guendouzi
Petr Cech
Laurent Koscielny
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Nacho Monreal


Angus Gunn (GK)
Jack Stephens
replace Charlie Austin (45′)
Jan Bednarek
Jannik Vestergaard
Matt Targett
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (C)
James Ward-Prowse
Oriol Romeu
Yan Valery
Nathan Redmond
Stuart Armstrong
replace Michael Obafemi (45′) replace Mohamed Elyounoussi (65′)
Alex McCarthy
Michael Obafemi
Charlie Austin
Mohamed Elyounoussi
Callum Slattery
Maya Yoshida
Ryan Bertrand
90 in 90: Arsenal 2-0 Saints timeMon 25 Feb
Arsenal v Saints

90 in 90: Arsenal 2-0 Saints

The key moments from Southampton's trip to Emirates Stadium.

Highlights: Arsenal 2-0 Saints photo Gallery: Arsenal 2-0 Saints
International Saints deliver positive display

International Saints deliver positive display

How Saints' stars fared on the international stage.

time2 hours ago
On This Day: Saints win seven-goal thriller Saints Planet League Cup officially kicks off on 1st April