Arsenal 6 Southampton 1: Gunners run riot against poor Saints
Arsenal shot up to third place in the table with a comprehensive 6-1 win over Southampton at the Emirates on Saturday.
The Gunners went ahead through a Jos Hooiveld own goal before Lukas Podolski arrowed a free kick into the top corner to double their lead.
Gervinho, starting in place of Theo Walcott, justified his selection with a well-taken third before a Kieran Gibbs effort deflected off Nathaniel Clyne and into the Saints net.
Danny Fox pulled one back for Southampton before the break, but that was as good as it got for the south-coast side as Gervinho and Walcott both struck in the second half to complete the rout.
The result leaves Southampton at the foot of the table without a point, but means that Arsenal are now just two points off leaders Chelsea after the West Londoner’s could only manage a draw at QPR.
Much of the talk before the season started centred around how Arsenal would replace the goals of Robin Van Persie, but it appears such concerns were unfounded with the goals now more evenly shared around the side.
New signings Podolski and Santi Cazorla both played a key part in the Gunners win over Liverpool and the duo were at the heart of all of Arsenal’s good play in the first half, with the former winning the ball in the middle of the park to set up the first goal.
The German forward played the ball through to Gibbs, whose shot was parried by goalkeeper Kelvin Davies before rebounding off Hooiveld and into the net.
Podolski then got himself on the score-sheet as his fantastic 25-yard free kick soared into the top corner to make it 2-0.
Mikel Arteta then played a superb chipped through ball to Gervinho, who raced into the box unchallenged before lashing a low shot in at the near post.
It was 4-0 soon after as Gibbs once again got down the left hand side of the box before unleashing a cross that deflected into the net off Clyne.
Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny then gifted Southampton a goal as he dropped a simple cross, allowing Fox to fire in from close range.
Unsurprisingly Arsene Wenger’s side did not show the same level of intensity after the break, and they nearly let Southampton back into the game when striker Rickie Lambert shot narrowly wide after latching onto a miscued Gaston Ramirez effort.
Wenger then refreshed his team by bringing on Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud, and it was the Welshmen who helped set up Arsenal’s fifth.
Ramsey flicked the ball over Clyne before firing against the post, with Gervinho on hand to fire in his second of the game on the rebound.
Arsenal grabbed the sixth late on as Southampton old boy Walcott curled into the bottom corner after a Thomas Vermaelen effort was parried by Davies.
The North Londoners have far tougher challenges in the month ahead and Wenger is looking to continue their good form into their upcoming fixtures.
“We have a big week coming up because we go on Tuesday now to Montpellier. On Sunday we play at Man City and we have two interesting weeks coming up because we play Chelsea as well,” he said.
“We will know more about our team then but there is a positive energy in this team, a desire to play well together, and real team play. It is very exciting.”
Laurence Taylor, football correspondent