Arsenal beat the press and start to purr

The seeds of the last game often have a big influence on the next.

And this was very evident in the first part of this match with Arsenal rickety with the high Southampton press with Gabriel and Saka both booked.

The subdued mood, with a fair few empty seats and lashing rain didn’t help. Some sloppy passing raised groans from the crowd. And obvious gaps appeared in Arsenal’s defence.

In terms of attack, Lacazette had two runs toward goal – but took one touch too many on both occasions. And Odegaard set up Saka with a classy backheel. But one on one with Caballero he hit it straight at him.

But on the magic 21, the pinnacle of what Mikel Arteta wants to achieve in terms of play, manifested.

Mikel Arteta: Director of Artistes

Ramsdale had been having difficulty initiating attacks. But all of a sudden, Arsenal beat the press and broke on the right. Tomiyasu found Saka who ran into the Southampton area, cut back to Lacazette who fired a first timer into the top right-hand corner of the net.

“It was [a ‘piece of art’] – that’s our identity, the way we want to play, it’s not possible to score all the goals like that. But that’s the direction we want to take,” said the Spainiard.

And goals change games.

It fuelled an Arsenal surge.

Tomiyasu crossed high and Tierney’s attempted cross was blocked. The Scotsman headed the rising ball towards the six-yard area and Odegaard positioned between two defenders headed past Cabellero.

Odegaard increasingly played a classic number 10 role in this game, finding space and setting up chances.

Injuries didn’t help Southampton’s cause. With main striker Adams out, they lost Armstrong to a leg injury. He looked Southampton’s most potent forward.

Tella, the ex-Arsenal academy player had a run and shot in off the flanks getting between the lines, but as the game progressed it looked like he doesn’t hit the ball hard enough.

He had another shot well saved by Ramsdale at the beginning of the second.

But a good corner from Martinelli was met by Gabriel running in unopposed and heading in number 3. Game over.

Lacazette went on a run and found Martinelli who switched to the right and curled it on to the post.

Soon after Saka wriggled free in the Southampton area and from a shot from a short back-lift hit the other post.

Ramsdale, although not called on much, still exuded presence saving well from Redmond. Followed by a diving save from Tella.

In the second half he kicked a beautiful side-volley setting up Martinelli one on one with Caballero but it went out for a corner.

Mikel Arteta said: “I’m very pleased. After a difficult period, we had two defeats where I don’t think we deserved to lose the games but we did.

“We started the game a little bit nervy, you could tell that we were carrying that feeling still, but we finished strong.”

On Aubameyang’s absence through disciplinary measures (missing training), the win strengthens Arteta’s hand in any forthcoming dispute.

Premier League: Arsenal 3 Southampton 0

Arsenal: 32Ramsdale, 18Tomiyasu, 4White, 6Gabriel (Booked at 3mins, Substituted for Holding at 70’minutes), 3Tierney, 7Saka (Booked at 17mins), 5Partey, 34Xhaka (Substituted for Sambi Lokonga at 81’minutes), 35Martinelli, 8Ødegaard, 9Lacazette (Substituted for Pépé at 83’minutes)

Southampton: 13Caballero, 21Livramento, 5Stephens, 35Bednarek, 2Walker-Peters, 11Redmond, 8Ward-Prowse, 27Diallo, 23Tella, 18Broja (Substituted for Lyanco at 70’minutes), 9A Armstrong (Substituted for Elyounoussi at 43’minutes)