If Mikel Arteta was not already worried about his team’s dramatic loss of form, he would certainly worry about the prospect of Arsenal regretting all their hard work as their chase to return to the Champions League was crushed by a devastating defeat at Southampton. Arteta had admitted that his team may have been psychologically beaten in recent weeks, and any hopes of regrouping were eroded as they succumbed to a fourth defeat in five Premier League games in which rejuvenated Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster kept Arsenal in check.
The only redeeming aspect of yet another difficult afternoon is that one of their primary rivals for a top-4 spot, Tottenham, also failed to take the win. For Southampton, this was something of a restorative mission, the kind of afternoon that cleared the palette after five defeats in their previous six, including the Chelsea demolition.
Forster was the only Southampton player to come out of their 6-0 defeat at home to Chelsea with any credit whatsoever, and the goalkeeper, who was recalled to the English squad after a five-year hiatus last month, continued where he escaped here, making a clever save low to the right to dismiss an early curling shot from Gabriel Martinelli. Forster brilliantly denied substitute Emile Smith Rowe in the second half, and the biggest moment came after 17 minutes when he moved over the goal to somehow save Bukayo Saka’s attempt to convert Martinelli’s low cross. Eddie Nketiah, who led the line in the absence of the ill Alexandre Lacazette, intercepted a loose pass from Yan Valery and fed Martinelli to his right, who passed a cross from the right to the back post. Saka should have scored, but scooped his shot high, giving Forster the slightest chance to react.
Arteta went straight down the tunnel as soon as the break whistled. Arsenal would have taken the lead through Saka, but for a wonderful Forster save, and instead of falling behind in the interval to a slightly flattering goal. Arsenal conceded a corner after Armando Broja tried to see a free kick from James Ward-Prowse in goal on the edge of the box and after Aaron Ramsdale struck the ensuing Ward-Prowse delivery free. However, Romain Perraud managed to get hold of the rebound and tucked the ball into the empty net. Mohamed Elyounoussi made a great block, though. Gabriel summed up Arsenal’s frustrations and tipped the ball towards the crossbar as Southampton ran off to celebrate.
Southampton, who had conceded 19 goals in their previous six games, switched to a five-man defense for this match, presumably to avoid something close to last week’s humility, and apart from Forster’s saves, Arsenal did not test too much. much a permeable backline. Mohammed Salisu, fasting while observing Ramadan, was put down on the bench in favor of Lyanco, who had a task on hand to keep a game of Nketiah in the cage, and at one point he was powerless to prevent the attacker from galloping. free halfway. Valery also showed a vulnerability and was lucky to avoid a reservation to wipe out Nuno Tavares. On the opposite flank, former Southampton defender Cedric Soares’ biggest contribution in the first half was two stubborn free kicks.
Arteta, all in black, clasped her hands on the edge of her technical area while seagulls hovered overhead. Arsenal had a hard time penetrating Southampton. Nketiah kicked in goal from a Soares post approaching the hour mark, but his shot dribbled towards Forster and then Martinelli flew over. A few minutes later, Soares was pulled back and replaced by Smith Rowe as Arteta moved things around, with Granit Xhaka moving to left back. Then came another chance, Saka sent a deflected shot past goal after slicing in from the right side.
Before the visiting supporters had the chance to digest Nicolas Pépé’s arrival from the substitutes bench with 20 minutes left, this match suddenly turned into an exercise of attack versus defense, with every Arsenal player-bar Ramsdale camping inside the Southampton half. Then, after a break, Forster was called into action. Valery failed to make a pass into the box, and it fell kindly to Smith Rowe. The Arsenal midfielder could only screw a shot towards goal, but it was difficult enough and meandered into the corner before Forster knocked the ball away. Martin Ødegaard and Xhaka went close late, but Southampton held on to the victory.