A season that promised so much for Arsenal is about to unravel quickly and is starting to take a rather ominous form. Mikel Arteta went down the tunnel with a face like thunder after fiddling through a third defeat in a row – and a fourth in five games – threatening to hamper their quest to return to the Champions League seriously.
The rejuvenated Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster kept Arsenal in check and made excellent saves in each half, but this was yet another toothless performance on Arteta’s part, and if he was not already worried about the way his team is developing, he will completely certainly worry now, especially considering they face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday before the games against Manchester United and West Ham.
For Southampton, this was something of a restorative mission, the kind of afternoon that cleared the palate after five defeats in their previous six, including the humiliating demolition here last week. Forster was the only Southampton player to come out of their 6-0 win over Chelsea with any credit, and the 34-year-old, who was recalled to the English squad after a five-year hiatus last month, continued where he left off. here. , somehow diverted Bukayo Saka’s attempts to convert Gabriel Martinelli’s center.
With 73 minutes on the clock, he struck a worn shot from substitute Emile Smith Rowe into safety as Arsenal pressed for an equalizer and each outfielder camped inside Southampton’s half. Forster’s performance was all the more remarkable as he withdrew from training last Friday following an ankle complaint. Arsenal had 23 shots, six on goal, but Jan Bednarek’s calm finish on the edge of the range was the only effort that waved the net.
The painful part for Arsenal is that they failed to capitalize on Tottenham’s slip-up at home to Brighton and instead drop to sixth place after Manchester United late beat Norwich. Asked how much of an opportunity had been missed, Arteta replied: “Huge. Because as someone who does not know the result and sees the match, you know what they would tell you: that Arsenal won the match. And we did not But it’s very disappointing and it’s hard to explain in words.
“This is sport. It’s what makes it different from everyone else. In basketball you have 25 shots and the opponent has one, you win 10 out of 10 times. They are really down because they can not find the right answer. , in addition to what we can do better around the box, to win the battle. ”
Arteta, completely in black, was appropriately dressed for the funeral atmosphere in the full-time dressing room. Eddie Nketiah, who led the line in the absence of the sick Alexandre Lacazette, collapsed on the floor when the final whistle sounded. Arsenal struggled to penetrate Southampton, whose manager, Ralph Hasenhüttl, decided to switch to a five-man defense after conceding 19 goals in their previous six games. Yan Valery and Lyanco both swayed, but Southampton, impeccably shielded by Forster, defended solidly as Martin Ødegaard rattled in the side netting and Granit Xhaka took aim late.
“We knew it was time to show a reaction and that we can play a little differently,” Hasenhüttl said. “We wanted to minimize the mistakes we made in the last few weeks. We had to change things. Because of the history of the last few matches, it was necessary.”
Bednarek’s goal was ugly from an Arsenal perspective. When Ramsdale hit a James Ward-Prowse corner kick free, Southampton seemed pretty harmless opponents. After a great cross, Romain Perraud saved a point blank header from Mohamed Elyounoussi, good move. Gabriel summed up Arsenal’s frustrations and knocked the ball against the bar as Southampton ran off to celebrate.
Before the visiting supporters had the opportunity to digest Nicolas Pépé’s arrival with 20 minutes to play, this match had turned into an exercise with attack versus defense, but Arsenal could not find a route through.
“The players we have, they have not done so in this league,” said Arteta. “When you have world-class players who have done it in the league for 10 years, you probably do not sit here with it. The result is what we ultimately need to be, where we need to be. If we are not capable of that, then we are not there. Simple as that.”