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Post Match Review

Three Things We Learned from Southampton 3 – 2 Arsenal

Arsenal Southampton Premier League Preview Tactical Analysis

Put this under, all good things must come to an end. After 4 months without suffering defeat in any competition, Arsenal finally ground to a halt with a 3-2 loss away to Southampton.

It may be painful, but let’s take a look at three things we learned from this loss.

Southampton Away Continues to Trip Up Arsenal

There are few sure things in life. You have death and taxes of course, but we might want to add Arsenal performing like crap away to Southampton to that esteemed list.

Prior to yesterday’s loss Arsenal had only won one of their last seven Premier League trips to St Mary’s W1 D4 L2. To make matters worse – Charlie Austin has scored in each of his five Premier League games against Arsenal. So, yesterday’s result maybe shouldn’t come as a surprise.

It feels kind of crappy losing to a team languishing in the bottom of the table but there were a few factors that conspired against us.

The new manager factor couldn’t and shouldn’t be overlooked. Hasenhutl’s team looked uncharacteristically good yesterday. Their pressing was smart, and they looked to take away Arsenal’s options out of the back from the start of the match. If you’ve watched any RB Leipzig matches it’s a system not too dissimilar to what Hasenhutl did with them in the Bundesliga

The press was set up to take away the passing options from Leno and create 1v1 situations high up the pitch and look for turnovers. It was a successful tactic that took advantage of Arsenal’s makeshift back three and forced Leno to look for long options. Of course, for most of that time it was a long ball up to Aubameyang who isn’t particularly strong in holding up play.

The new manager effect also carries over in to the performance of the player themselves. They wanted to impress the new boss and they looked rightly motivated to do so. It may take Hasenhutl some time, but I suspect that when they come to the Emiartes they will be a vastly improved team.

This Was a Loss in the Making

 Frankly this loss shouldn’t really come as a surprise to anyone. The 22 unbeaten run masked a lot of issues of a team still clearly in transition. The biggest issue is obviously defending but there are so many more.

A couple telling stats highlight why this loss shouldn’t come as a surprise:

  1. Arsenal have yet to lead a Premier League match at half time
  2. Arsenal have conceded as many goals as Crystal Palace and more than Newcastle, Wolves & Leicester
  3. We have allowed an amazing amount of shots on target this season (83 after yesterday)

We can look at a myriad of other reasons, but the fact remains we’ve only played fantastic football against the big teams. Emery has yet found out how to get his team playing at the same level for the smaller clubs with maybe Fulham away being the only exception.

While Arsenal certainly had enough ability and talent on the pitch yesterday to win the match, the results in the lead in to this match showed a team that was precipitously close to losing a match.

We’ve looked leggy and tired and well, some of Emery’s lineup choices left at least this writer scratching their head. I know Ramsey and Özil have fallen down the pecking order, but you needed one or both of them from the get-go. There simply was no creativity in this side especially with Aubameyang making such great runs behind the Southampton defenders.

It goes without saying that we should remember that we are a team in transition. That the issues that have plagued us for the last few years weren’t going to go away in a short time.

We’ve all been happy with what we’ve seen and its built-up expectations, but it took Liverpool a while to get where they are now. We need to remain patient and understand that this is a process and not jump to outlandish conclusions the likes of what has been on social media.

Suspensions and Injuries Take Its Toll

Out of the line up yesterday were Sokratis, Mustafi, and Holding. That meant Emery had to adjust his defensive group to be players who’d not played in either an eternity or at all together.

The back 3 was made up of 2 players who had missed significant time (Koscielny 7 months) and one who is at best a rotational reserve player. Neither of them had played together as a unit except for whatever training was done in the wake of Thursday’s Europa League tie.

Frankly, I am surprised it wasn’t worse than it was. We simply can’t go through the remainder of the year with CBs that are hurt, old and prone to suspensions every 5th match.

We’re about to head into the heaviest time of year and we aren’t ready for it. This could get more worrisome. We’re going to need some reinforcements. It’s just a shame the January window may come after it’s too late.

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