Frank Stubbs: Tactically successful

13/14: Arsenal 2-0 Southampton - Olivier Giroud
Olivier Giroud

On Saturday afternoon's evidence that was the best and certainly strongest Southampton side I have seen down the years. We had to get so much right to make sure we took away the three points. Throw in that little bit of good fortune and all in all it was another thoroughly satisfying day's work.

Other than the opportunity it gives to 'enjoy' one or two of life's activities away from our great sport I have yet to find anyone who actually likes the international breaks. Any footballing momentum disappears and if you are similar to me you spend the whole time hoping our players come back injury-free and counting down the days before our next game!

It was a successful period for all our players involved in crucial international matches, even if it wasn't quite the same for those in friendlies. For the BFG on the other hand, it was a memorable week I'm sure!

We all knew Saturday was going to be a tough game. Our focus had to be just right, our visitors having proved on a number of occasions this season that they are ready to take advantage of any below-par performance.

All the time we keep our opponents' score to nil I am confident we will create and score opportunities at some stage across the course of the match. We were unlucky not to take the lead when the width of the post prevented goals of sheer beauty twice in the first half, and then Olly snatched us the lead, benefitting from his hard work as well as the goalkeeper's mistake in trying to take him on.

One-nil is a precarious lead of course and once again our visitors provided enough to keep those nerves jangling during the second period. Overall we defended admirably and the nearest to further goals came from the team in red and white.

Although I think it is fair to say penalty decisions don't often arise from physical contact at a corner, the defender on this occasion could not have held on to any more of the BFG's shirt! Watching the replays, the referee's view gave him little option and overall it was the right decision.

It was the chance to put the game to bed and Olly topped off his man-of-the-match performance by slotting home the pen.

Not a game that we'll be talking about regularly over the coming years - with two relatively 'messy' goals to boot - but it could not have been more keenly contested and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Another of the 38 ticked of as we approach being a third of the way through our league season.

Next we turn our attention back to the Champions League and the visit of Marseille. It is true, if results go our way on Tuesday night, that we could be through. First and foremost however, it is imperative that we concentrate on getting our own bit right. That means putting in a performance that earns a victory.

We know we have a team capable of doing that and we know as fans we can also create the kind of atmosphere that helps.



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