It was a disappointing afternoon on the south coast on Sunday as our long unbeaten run in all competitions came to an end at the hands of Southampton.
Read on for our analysis of the game, as we look at the defensive issues we have, Laca’s impact off the bench and a fine team goal.
Unai Emery had quite a conundrum coming into this game with both Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi suspended, Rob Holding and Dinos Mavropanos injured and Laurent Koscielny having only played 72 minutes in seven months. He opted to retain a back three, with Granit Xhaka surprisingly drafted in on the left-hand side of Koscielny and Stephan Lichtsteiner. This was the first time this trio had played alongside each other and they struggled to deal with the movement of Danny Ings in particular who scored twice in the first half. With Hector Bellerin and Lichtsteiner limping off, Emery has much to ponder ahead of Wednesday’s Carabao Cup quarter-final against Tottenham.
ANOTHER GOAL TO REMEMBER
This might not be an afternoon that anyone will recall with any great fondness, but one positive was our opening goal at St Mary’s. A move of 19 passes, including a beautifully-weighted ball by Alex Iwobi to set Nacho Monreal free down the left, ended with Henrikh Mkhitaryan scoring his first header for us, lighting up an otherwise grey afternoon on the south coast.
LACA’S IMPACT OFF THE BENCH
It was something of a surprise to see Alex Lacazette among the substitutes when the teamsheets were released an hour before kick off, but no surprise at all to see the French striker make an instant impact when he was introduced at half time. Prior to this match, our subs had been involved in more goals than any other top-flights side (scoring eight goals and claiming eight assists), and Laca added to that number by setting up the equaliser. The Frenchman always works overtime to win back possession, and he picked the pocket of the defender to win the ball 20 yards from goal before laying it off for Mkhitaryan to equalise with a deflected shot. The Armenian celebrated his second of the afternoon, but it was a goal that owed just as much to Laca’s intervention.
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