First-half strikes from Alexandre Lacazette and Henrikh Mkhitaryan guided us to a 2-0 win over Southampton on Saturday - but what did we learn from our Premier League outing?
PLAY IT AGAIN
For the second time in a row, Unai Emery started with a back four, in a 4-2-3-1 formation. The personnel might have changed - there were six changes from Thursday's win over BATE Borisov – but the system was similar, and with the same outcome.
Alexandre Lacazette led the line up front this time, back from midweek suspension, and linked up excellently with the busy trio of Alex Iwobi, Aaron Ramsey and Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the first half especially. The striker had five shots in the opening 45 minutes, including claiming his 13th goal of the season.
The net result was we were able to record our first back-to-back victories since the first week of the calendar year, and it's the first time we had kept consecutive clean sheets since blanking out Huddersfield and Qarabag back in December.
LENO'S VITAL SAVES
That clean sheet was down in no small part to the performance of Bernd Leno in goal. It was his shut out sheet since January 19 against Chelsea, and only his second of 2019.
But it was well deserved – the German made four saves during the afternoon, the pick of which came when the match was still scoreless, from Nathan Redmond in the opening five minutes.
He also kept out a fierce Matt Targett effort shortly before Mkhitaryan doubled our lead.
In the second half he also kept out Charlie Austin and another Targett attempt, allowing us to see out the game with relative ease, and few nervy moments.
A PIVOTAL 30 SECONDS
Perhaps the key moments of the whole game came less than half a minute apart, just five minutes into the match. Nathan Redmond found himself streaking away from the defence in the early stages, and checked onto his left foot with space in the box, only to be denied by a quick-thinking Bernd Leno. Almost immediately we countered, and found the opening goal through Lacazette.
So from potentially being a goal down, we were 1-0 up and the platform had been set for us to go on and claim the three points.
The stats show just how important those 30 seconds were. We have won 22 out of 25 games when scoring the first goal this season (losing just once), compared to winning just two of 13 games when conceding first.
As Mkhitaryan said afterwards: "We had a great first half. I think if it wasn’t for Bernd Leno’s save, we wouldn’t have scored the first goal so that’s thanks to him. He did half of the job."
MICKI PROVES SAINTS SCOURGE AGAIN
The last time we played Southampton was the 3-2 defeat at St Mary's in December, a reverse that ended our 22-game unbeaten run. The one bright spark of that loss however was Henrikh Mkhitaryan's performance – the midfielder scored both of our goals that afternoon.
Our number 7 was at it again at the Emirates, setting up the first for Lacazette before slotting home the second himself inside 20 minutes. It means three of his five goals this season have come against the Saints.
It wasn't just his attacking contribution that proved important on Sunday though – playing ahead of Stephan Lichtsteiner and then Shkodran Mustafi on the right, he didn't neglect his defensive duties, making more tackles than any other Arsenal player (four).
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