Southampton 0-2 Arsenal: Sloppy Saints contribute to Gunners win

Southampton contributed to their own downfall on Thursday as they fell to a 2-0 defeat to Arsenal at St Mary’s.

A dreadful error from Saints goalkeeper Alex McCarthy gifted the opening goal to visiting striker Eddie Nketiah after 20 minutes, and Arsenal then wrapped up their win through Joe Willock’s strike after Saints failed to clear a free-kick properly.

Jack Stephens was also sent off late on for Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side after bringing down Aubameyang when he was through on goal, and that forces a spell on the sidelines for the Saints man.

The warning signs were there early on for the hosts as Arsenal started to create in and around the penalty area.

A direct ball over the top of the home defence saw Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang through on goal instantly and with just Alex McCarthy to beat, but the forward’s effort flicked off the crossbar and Saints were able to clear.

Arsenal’s Spanish midfielder Dani Ceballos (L) vies with Southampton’s English striker Danny Ings (Photo by CATHERINE IVILL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The Gunners had already had the ball in the net after a neat move involving an offside Bakayo Saka and a close-range finish from Eddie Nketiah, but the latter wouldn’t have to wait long to be handed the first goal of the evening on a plate.

A slightly under-hit backpass from Jan Bednarek could have been easily cleared downfield McCarthy, but the Saints goalkeeper looked panicked and tried to play an intricate pass out to a Saints shirt.

However, Nketiah was alive to the this and nipped in to intercept the pass and allow himself an easy finish with the goal unguarded.

Saints looked well below par from the start but did piece together a decent move before half-time.

Play from the left flank recycled from Nathan Redmond and Ryan Bertrand and back to Jack Stephens, and the Saints defender floated a nice ball over the Arsenal backline to Danny Ings.

The striker brought it down excellently on the stretch and poked back to Bertrand just inside the area, but the full-back’s shot screwed right across goal without troubling the far post.

Into the second-half, Saints created two good chances to get themselves back level but crucially didn’t take either.

Redmond could only slam into the side-netting after a James Ward-Prowse cross found its way to the back post, and then Shane Long’s strong left-footed volley forced a superb low save from Emiliano Martinez after another lofted ball forward from Stephens.

The Saints centre-back was soon to see his game come to an end prematurely though in the lead up to Arsenal’s second goal.

A careless pass back from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg saw Aubameyang through on goal, and Arsenal’s top scorer was brought down by a lunging Stephens who was forced to make a last ditch attempt – a clear sending off offence if not his own fault.

The challenge also gave Mikel Arteta’s visitors a free-kick just outside the box. Alexandre Lacazette’s dead ball attempt hit the Saints wall, but his follow up forced a save from Alex McCarthy and a subsequent spill back into danger.

Joe Willock was reacted quicker than anyone else to seize upon the loose ball, fire home and send his side away from the South Coast with three points under their belt.

With changes potentially afoot ahead of Saints’ meeting with Watford on Sunday, a better team display is needed for Ralph Hasenhuttl and his players to put this below-par showing behind them.

Saints team: McCarthy, Valery (Walker-Peters 45), Stephens, Bednarek, Bertrand, Hojbjerg (Vestergaard 90+1), Ward-Prowse, Armstrong, Redmond, Ings (Romeu 90+1), Obafemi (Long 45)

Subs not used: Adams, Smallbone, Gunn, Vokins, Tella

Arsenal team: Martinez, Bellerin, Mustafi, Holding, Tierney (Kolasinac 70), Xhaka, Ceballos (Maitland-Niles 80), Saka, Pepe (Willock 64), Nketiah (Lacazette 79), Aubameyang

Subs not used: Sokratis, Ozil, Nelson, Macey, Smith

Next: Saints 0-2 Arsenal: Saints Player Ratings
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