Southampton 1-0 Arsenal: Jan Bednarek’s strike consigns Arsenal to suffer third successive defeat as Gunners suffer further setback in pursuit of top four
- Southampton secured a 1-0 victory against Arsenal with Jan Bednarek netting just before half time
- The result means Arsenal remain three points behind Tottenham despite their rivals losing to Brighton
- After suffering their third defeat in a row Arsenal have now fallen behind Manchester United in the table
- Gunners are in a poor run of form and have been suffering with injury problems during the run-in
As you were, then. After a door swung open and opportunity knocked, Arsenal tripped on the step. So just like that, the balance of power in north London swung this way. And that.
What a pivotal day this could prove in the race for the top four. If you can still call it that while Arsenal remain in reverse gear. How many more chances will they have to wrest back control from Tottenham?
How many better ones than this? Southampton hadn’t won in the league for nearly two months. Before this Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side had lost five in six matches. And yet, after Spurs’ defeat earlier in the day, Mikel Arteta’s side dithered once more.
Southampton defender Jan Bednarek found the net just before half time as he put his team in the lead at home to Arsenal
Bednarek is congratulated by his jubilant Southampton team-mates after his goal put Southampton in front against Arsenal
Mikel Arteta’s side suffered their third defeat in succession and have now fallen behind Manchester United in the table
Southampton (5-4-1): Forster 7.5, Walker-Peters 6.5, Valery 6.5, Bednarek 7, Lyanco 6, Perraud 6.5; S Armstrong 7 (Redmond 82, 6), Ward-Prowse 6.5, Romeu 6.5, Elyounoussi 6.5 (Livramento 90, 6); Broja 6 (Long 74, 6.5)
Subs not used: Caballero, Stephens, A Armstrong, Adams, Salisu, Tella
Goals: Bednarek 44
Yellow: Broja, Long
Manager: Ralph Hasenhuttl 7
Arsenal (4-3-3): Ramsdale 6.5; Soares 6 (Smith Rowe 60, 6.5), White 5.5, Gabriel 6, Nuno Tavares 6 (Pepe 70, 6); Xhaka 6.5, Sambi Lokonga 5, Odegaard 6.5; Saka 6.5, Martinelli 6.5, Nketiah 6
Subs not used: Leno, Holding, Elneny, Azeez, Ogungbo, Swanson, Hutchinson
Manager: Mikel Arteta 5
Ref: Peter Bankes 6.5 Att: 31465
Season at a glance
That is now four defeats in their last five games. Somehow, Champions League qualification remains in their hands. But the gap to Spurs remains three points and now Manchester United stand between Arsenal and fourth place, too.
This chance was spurned thanks to Jan Bednarek’s first-half goal. Arteta had, in fairness, predicted more twists and turns. At some point, though, his side might have to actually win a game. It took all of a few seconds for Arsenal’s supporters to begin flirting with fate.
‘Arsenal on the way to the Champions League,’ the away end bellowed immediately after kick-off – more in expectation than hope this time. Another Brighton hit-job in north London had shifted the mood once more.
Suddenly some of the pressure that swelled after consecutive defeats had eased and Arsenal played like it, too. Bukayo Saka had an early shot blocked; Gabriel Martinelli saw a curled effort beaten away by Fraser Forster.
Arsenal defender Benjamin White is left dejected at the final whistle after his team suffered a 1-0 defeat away to Southampton
The result represents another blow for Arsenal in their bid to secure a top four finish in the Premier League this season
Arsenal defender Cedric Soares, previously of Southampton, competes for possession with Romain Perraud
The absence of Alexandre Lacazette through Covid saw Martin Odegaard handed the armband and Eddie Nketiah given a start up front. That left Arsenal with a fresh-faced front-line, full of pace and promise. One that so nearly combined for the opening goal on 17 minutes.
Nketiah did well to intercept a loose pass and feed Martinelli down the right. His square ball ran all the way towards the back post, where Saka’s shot was kept out brilliantly by a scrambling Forster. It was a remarkable save but Saka ought really to have rendered the goalkeeper redundant.
The visitors still looked the more likely thereafter. Nuno Tavares, recalled following his nightmare at Selhurst Park, was a buccaneering outlet down the left. At the other end, however, Southampton had fired a few warning shots before they drew first blood. Stuart Armstrong forced Aaron Ramsdale into a low save before Armando Broja saw an attempted header deflected behind.
From the resulting corner, shortly before half time, Ramsdale punched clear towards Romain Perraud who, with his back to goal, hooked the ball back into Arsenal territory.
With captain Alexandre Lacazette missing out because of Covid, Eddie Nketiah made his first league start of the season
Arsenal winger Gabriel Martinelli tries to get away from Perraud but is held back by the Southampton defender
Although Arsenal brought on Emile Smith Rowe in the second half they were still unable to break Southampton down
Mohamed Elyounoussi chased the lost cause to the byline before squaring for Bednarek to turn the ball beyond Ramsdale. It was an odd goal, befitting a rather curious first half, and another twist in the top-four race. Not that Saints cared about that one jot.
Hasenhuttl shuffled his pack following last week’s humiliation against Chelsea. They were 4-0 down at the break last week. This time Saints re-emerged with foundations on which to build and Arsenal struggled to knock them down. Nketiah flashed a neat flick across goal; both Martinelli and Odegaard sent shots into orbit.
It wasn’t until around the hour mark, and the introduction of Emile Smith Rowe, that pressure began to build on the Southampton goal. Saka curled an effort wide from 20 yards, substitute Nicolas Pepe hooked a shot past the post. And then Forster made a string of crucial saves.
The best came from Smith Rowe’s scuffed shot, when Forster clawed the ball from behind him. The goalkeeper then saved from Saka before Odegaard flashed wide and Arsenal’s fate was sealed.
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