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Post Match Review

Aftermath: Three Things We Learned From Arsenal’s Win Over Southampton


The Gunners took care of business yesterday, beating Southampton 3-0 on a rainy night in North London. Three things were apparent in the aftermath:

Ode to Joy

Martin Odegaard made it three goals in three games with a headed finish in the 26th minute. On the right flank, Bukayo Saka tried to take on three defenders, slipping in the sodden grass. As he fell, he clipped it to his left, finding Takehiro Tomiyasu who immediately smashed a cross. The ball flew over the central part of the box, landing softly at the feet of Kieran Tierney on the left-hand side. Tierney gathered and tried to send a cross back in. The ball had different intentions, sticking itself to the bottom of Tierney’s foot. Tierney persisted, gathered again and tried another cross. This attempt smacked two Saints and bounced back to Tierney who jumped in the air and met the ball with his head. As this headed pass soared in the box, Odegaard wriggled his way between two defenders, met the ball in the air, and sent it flying past Caballero’s outstretched hand into the top right corner of the net.

The goal was an oddity, but Odegaard’s finishing ability is not. He is finding space in key areas, making runs at opportune moments, and finishing with quality.

Odegaard’s talent with the ball at his feet is a known quantity. He was scouted by Real for his fluid ability to move with the ball with ease and direct key passes to the feet of his supporting cast on the pitch. But, scoring has not been a common occurrence for the young Norwegian.

Should Odegaard continue to operate both as the conductor of the offense and as a genuine threat on goal for opposing defenses, Arsenal will flourish.

“I’m very happy to help the team to get results. I’ve scored in other games as well but we didn’t win so it doesn’t mean anything. Today it’s important that we won so I’m very happy. Yes, it [was my first headed goal], it’s not my biggest strength. I would say I was in the right place at the right time,” Odegaard told following the win.

Right place right time, Martin.

THOSE 20 Minutes

From the 56th until the 76th minute, the crowd was loud. Really, REALLY loud.

Why? The Gunners had their 2-0 lead. All was fairly calm and set in stone. What had these fans in such a mood?

Arsenal put their foot on the gas. From the 56th minute– and even after Gabriel smashed in a header in the 62nd minute– until the 76th minute, Arsenal dominated possession. They never let Southampton get the ball for more than a moment, snatching it back with ease. They pinned Southampton back and mercilessly attacked the Saints in their own third.

This was what fans wanted to see. Particularly after taking the lead and squandering it in the last two matches. Fans wanted to see the Gunners take the lead and continue to act as if they did not have it. Fans wanted to see continued possession, continued pressure, continued attacking play — regardless of the score.

We, fans, certainly got our wish. Arsenal got their third goal. And the players seemed to feed off that energy. Man of the Match and goal scorer Martin Odegaard called the second half “brilliant.” Absolutely.

Should Arsenal continue to play with that freedom and fluidity, regardless of the score, this team will gain points in unexpected matches and will dominate those at the bottom.

Not a Partey

We really need to talk about Thomas Partey. No, really. We have to talk about him.

Following the defeat to Liverpool, Partey opened up to Sky Sports. “I’d give myself a four [out of 10],” he told Sky Sports. “There are moments in the game where I can be really hurting the other team but there are also moments, because I’m not yet adapted to the Premier League, where maybe I allow myself to lose focus, and that’s when everything goes down.”

That honesty is admirable, but Partey followed up those comments with a dreadful performance at Old Trafford and another lackluster showing at Goodison Park. His famed ability to steal the ball from opponents with ease seems M.I.A. and he looks lost when chasing the ball. Partey has been dribbled past 12 times already this season; compare that with young Albert Sambi Lokonga who has only been dribbled past once in his outings.

Yesterday, in a game in which he should have dominated, Partey yet again looked a step slow, missing passes, missing tackles, and not dominating the midfield. He even took another one of his “satellite launches,” hearing the urging of fans to shoot in the 84th minute and blasting the ball to the top of the Emirates. Honestly, that shot went at least 25 rows deep.

Whatever the cause, it’s clear that Arteta needs to have a think about Partey and his place in the team. A Xhaka/Lokonga midfield pairing is a tantalizing thought and with Lokonga’s recent superb play, it may be time to make the adjustment and have Partey focused on getting back to what he does best. At the moment, we are seeing anything but the Ghanan’s best.

What’s Next

The Gunners face a massive test against top-four rival West Ham at the Emirates on Wednesday. A win against the Hammers would be massive for confidence, but also place Arsenal in a strong position to continue their top-4 push. We go again. Victoria Concordia Crescit.

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