27 Jan Arsenal’s win at Southampton, reversing a loss at St. Mary’s three days earlier, suggests Gunners’ targets are greater than the FA Cup
SOUTHAMPTON, England — One victory is not going to banish the frustration of surrendering their maintain on the FA Cup, however Mikel Arteta will really feel a way of vindication in Arsenal exacting revenge towards Southampton with a 3-1 win at St. Mary’s to climb above them within the Premier League desk.
The Gunners returned to the venue the place there exited the FA Cup simply three days earlier, however the identical two teams solely appeared in identify solely. Arteta made 5 modifications having prioritised this fixture from earlier than the final one, recalling in-form duo Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka, with David Luiz returning in defence, Thomas Partey beefing up the midfield and Alexandre Lacazette main the road.
Of Southampton’s three modifications, two had been enforced. And with first-choice full-backs Kyle Walker-Peters and Ryan Bertrand unavailable, the house facet regarded like they’d had their wings clipped.
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Ralph Hasenhuttl’s team lacked the identical depth of their press and conviction in assault whereas Arsenal had been reinvigorated with a renewed sense of goal, Smith Rowe and Saka persevering with to offer a formidable finish product alongside youthful endeavour.
Arteta was in a position to survive probably the most turbulent interval of his Arsenal tenure partially as a result of he may level to final season’s FA Cup success as tangible proof his methodology can yield success, however their final objective is to maneuver past that and turn out to be a Champions League team once more. They’ve an extended solution to go in that specific activity, nevertheless it explains Arteta’s pondering in not risking a number of gamers who had been carrying health issues — Partey and Smith Rowe amongst them — most trusted to carry out and a look on the desk gives actual encouragement at what is likely to be attainable, particularly with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang lacking once more for private causes.
Other than West Ham United, the remainder might have video games in hand however Arsenal are as much as eighth and 5 factors from probably the most unlikely of top-four locations. Beat leaders Manchester United on Saturday and Arteta will certainly really feel the current revival can realistically catapult them significantly greater than midtable however, usually, the Spaniard isn’t getting carried away.
“I do not wish to actually take a look at the desk, I wish to take a look at ourselves and the way can we get higher, the the reason why we’re performing higher and profitable extra matches and get that consistency we have been missing,” he mentioned after the match. “We’re simply making an attempt to enhance the team. Tomorrow is one other day: evaluate the sport, prepare, enhance in lots of areas that we now have to get higher so we’ll see the place we get to.”
Lacazette ought to have put the guests forward inside the primary minute when being despatched via by Granit Xhaka just for the Frenchman to fireplace a shot straight at Alex McCarthy.
The sport was solely three minutes outdated nevertheless it was a testomony to how nicely Arsenal had began that it felt Southampton took the lead towards the run of play. James Ward-Prowse whipped in a cross at tempo, Nicolas Pepe let Stuart Armstrong go and the Saints midfielder steered a advantageous shot previous Bernd Leno.
Whereas Arsenal mustered little by the use of response when falling behind on Saturday, right here they continued to push on unabated. Xhaka slipped in Pepe, beginning his first Premier League recreation since Dec. 19, and the club-record £72 million signing slotted the ball dwelling.
This was one in every of Pepe’s extra productive evenings, however he was once more outshone by Saka, who collected Lacazette’s intelligent early cross to spherical McCarthy and rating six minutes earlier than the break. Cedric, one other maligned participant to take pleasure in an encouraging night, performed a luxurious cross-field cross for Saka to gather, get to the byline and sq. a advantageous cross for Lacazette to faucet dwelling, rendering the ultimate 18 minutes a cushty conservation of vitality.
Hasenhuttl highlighted his team’s shortcomings afterwards by admitting he needs to signal a full-back earlier than the transfer window closes on Monday, and it’s tough to flee the conclusion Arsenal’s larger squad depth helped them on this event.
Maybe noting the criticism Arteta acquired for his team selection within the wake of Saturday’s FA Cup exit, the 38-year-old sought to rewrite the narrative round that recreation by insisting solely two of the seven modifications he made final weekend weren’t enforced, a degree he underlined by Smith Rowe coming off 18 minutes from time with a muscular drawback, adopted by Partey six minutes later.
“Simply to make it clear within the FA Cup recreation, we had 5 gamers who weren’t accessible to play,” he mentioned. “We made seven modifications and 5 of them had been as a result of they weren’t able to play the sport. Smith Rowe was one and Thomas was one other. We now have to handle and shield these gamers and typically they don’t seem to be match however we can not clarify each single day how everyone seems to be feeling.”
Regardless of the actuality, Arsenal’s priorities this season lie past the FA Cup and performances like this expand targets really feel nearer handy.