The little fella does it again for Arsenal
I imagine all three of BT Sport's neutral viewers switched off long before Alexis stabbed in the late winner last night. It was a pretty awful game of football, punctuated by Arsenal creating some great chances for Danny Welbeck (that he missed) and one fine header from Giroud, made by the ball of the night from Podolski, which brought a wonderful save from Forster. Certainly there was little to warm up those of us in the stadium on a cold night in North London.
Southampton were a real disappointment. Obviously it isn't incumbent on any visiting side to come out and play at Arsenal (remember Chelsea on 23rd December last year?) but I would be annoyed today if I was a Saints fan. They've had a fine season, and have seemingly played a lot of good football along the way. To come to Arsenal last night with absolutely no intention whatsoever of trying to score a goal was awful. Their only opportunity came when a throw-in was taken quickly, about ten yards further forward than it had gone out, that allowed Tadic the space to create a problem for Arsenal's otherwise impressive defence. Aside from that moment I thought Calum Chambers had Tadic in his pocket pretty much throughout and played his best game for Arsenal so far. I've given Chambers plenty of stick as I think he has been over-hyped but last night the youngster was outstanding. Also credit to Monreal on the other side of the defence.
Back to Southampton and their sole tactic seemed to be get the ball towards Pelle and hope that he could bump in to Koscielny and knock him over. Fortunately for Arsenal the ability of Koscielny was just too much for their main man. However, I will be amazed if Koscielny plays at Stoke City this weekend. He was limping after twenty minutes and somehow got through the game. We really do need him Saturday against Stoke's battering rams so we have to hope a few days in cotton wool can help him recover.
At the other end of the pitch Santi Cazorla was our best player in the first-half, though he faded after that. I thought the little man looked back to his best at times last night and that is very welcome. He was responsible for the first of Danny Welbeck's three clear-cut chances. We have a problem in Welbeck. He gives so much to the team with his work rate, and he makes all the right runs. But his job is to score goals and he simply misses too many chances. In the last few league matches we have had plenty of opportunities to score more goals, and many have fallen to Welbeck. That he has just one goal, from a goalkeeping error, in that time tells us something. Unfortunately Giroud isn't really much better in front of goal - what was that all about when he tried to pass the ball back to a stricken Aaron Ramsey who had put him in on goal, on his left foot, shortly after our goal?
The goal, of course, eventually came from Alexis. I thought the Chilean was poor last night. Maybe he's starting to feel the fatigue a little, and he will certainly need some kind of rest in the next four weeks, but he was on the spot when it mattered. Ramsey had another wretched game, but he did brilliantly to create the goal and maybe he'll get some confidence from that. I don't know how the cretinous Andre Marriner missed a clear handball seconds before we scored, but that could have been costly to Arsenal. Nobody could genuinely argue (though Dietmarr Hamaan did so on Match Of The Day) that Arsenal didn't deserve the win given the way Southampton played, so it was justice when Alexis poked it home.
After the goal, however, the Arsenal players lost the plot again. In to injury-time we had two corners and a free-kick. Did we simply run down the clock with the ball in the corners of the pitch? No! We were putting crosses in to the box and giving the ball back to our opponents. Everyone in the crowd knew what the players needed to do, but these international footballers couldn't work it out. It was utterly crazy. Last night it didn't cost us, but what the hell are they thinking at times?
So another three points, and consecutive 1-0 wins. I'll take that all the way. There's nothing wrong with 1-0.