Southampton put the pressure on an ailing Arsenal side, but beat themselves as two major mistakes lead to an 0-2 loss at St. Mary’s.
Ralph Hasenhuttl made zero changes from the 3-0 win over Norwich and pushed his team through a hot summer night. The heat may have taken its toll on today’s game as Southampton led possession, but two mental mistakes added up to an 0-2 loss. Alex McCarthy and Jack Stephens will get much of the blame, but the Saints’ former captain Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was directly involved in both Arsenal goals.
Southampton started fast and were in the driver’s seat for most of the match. Arsenal however, saw the better of the opportunities via Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang playing off the shoulder of Jack Stephens. Alex McCarthy did make a great first half save with the French striker bearing down on him 1v1, but later passed the ball right into a pressing Eddie Nketiah leading to the first goal. The ball was unnecessarily played back to McCarthy after the Saints won possession at midfield, but nonetheless, it was another failed distribution from the Southampton goalkeeper.
Hasenhuttl made two proactive changes at the break, bringing Shane Long on for Michael Obafemi, and Kyle Walker-Peters for the struggling Yan Valery. Both starting Saints’ youngsters are either out of form or severely lacking confidence and fans will be clamoring for the subs to get in the starting eleven versus Watford.
Southampton dominated periods of possession, but rarely threatened. Danny Ings’ only chance was volleyed over the bar, Stuart Armstrong had two half-efforts on his left side, and Shane Long smashed his best chance right at the Arsenal goalkeeper. The Saints’ four corner kicks never looked convincing and other than Ryan Bertrand on the left side, there were few opportunities against a leaky Arsenal defense.
Losing Jack Stephens to a red card is going to be the story of the game. Jannik Vestergaard came in for stoppage time, but is likely going to be thrust back into a starting role during a tough run of games. Perhaps this will be his final test to see if he is going to be a part of Hasenhuttl’s squad beyond this year, but replacing Stephens, who has played so well in 2020 is going to be a big ask.
Here are the player ratings for all the Southampton players against Arsenal.