It was thought that Arteta’s teachers and students would have a gentle “rehearsal” at home before the “Premier League final”, but in the end they had to work very hard to avoid defeat in the welcome screen of the bottom team Southampton.
Final result Arsenal vs Southampton (3-3)
Score: Gabriel Martinelli (20′); Odegaard (88); Saka (90) – Alcaraz (1′); Walcott (14′); Caleta-Car (66′)
Arsenal’s No. 1 position on the 2022/23 Premier League table is more shaky than ever, although at one point, the “Gunners” were far ahead of their direct competitor Man City. In the middle of next week, the two sides will enter the “final” match to determine the throne. To protect the advantage as well as create psychological momentum for that great war, Arsenal are not allowed to stumble in the welcome screen of the bottom team Southampton.
Before the match, coach Arteta’s teachers and students had only lost 1 match at Emirates home since the beginning of the Premier League this season (won 12). Since losing to Man City in mid-February, Arsenal have won the last 4 home matches in the Premier League, scoring 15 goals and only conceding 4 times. Southampton themselves did not win at the Emirates after the last 17 visits here (lost 9).
Compared to the last match (draw with West Ham), coach Mikel Arteta made 2 adjustments in the starting list: Zinchenko returned to hold the left-back position instead of Tierney who did not meet the technical requirements and Fabio Vieira appeared in the midfield, filling the void left by Granit Xhaka (sick).
However, when all preparations for the match were still “on paper”, Arsenal were unexpectedly conceded. Right at 30 seconds, goalkeeper Ramsdale made a confusing mistake when he put the ball right at Alcaraz’s feet and of course how could this player refuse that generous gift.
After a few minutes needed to regain morale, Arsenal pushed the squad to attack strongly because there was no other choice. Intense pressure poured into the Southampton goal, but the “Gunners” continued to be splashed with another cold water. 14 minutes, Thomas Partey lost control of the ball in the middle of the field and the away team immediately switched status quickly. The player opened the scoring, Alcaraz made a convenient poke for Walcott to escape and then hit the corner to sink, hitting the old team’s net.
It was not until this time that Arsenal really woke up. In the 20th minute, Saka broke through on the right wing close to the crossbar and returned the ball to the inside very well for Martinelli to finish the goal at the first touch. With some confidence and spirit restored, the home team continued to attack but at a calmer level instead of being hasty, which easily leads to incorrect decisions.
That is the main reason why no more goals were scored in the first half when the number of chances that Arsenal created was also not many. The most dangerous situation is probably Ben White’s header in a corner and is cleared by Alcaraz right on the line.
Of course, after the break, there was still only one team to attack and the other team to try to entrench with a large number of troops in the home field, even rare for players to cross the line in the middle of the field. And the deadlock began to appear when Arsenal’s threat solutions did not work.
Not only could not score but Arsenal continued to be conceded. In the 66th minute, Kotchap headed the tactical back in a corner and Caleta-Car appeared on the side of the second column, headed the net to hit Ramsdale.
Coach Arteta threw all the attacking cards in his hand to save the game and it was not until the last minutes that they were satisfied. Odegaard first tackled the ball on the edge of the penalty area before unleashing a classy left-footed cut, hammering the ball into the low corner in Bazunu’s helplessness. Next at 90 minutes, Saka successfully kicked back after Nelson’s effort was blocked by the away team’s goalkeeper.
This is the first time a team has escaped defeat when they have been led by two goals until the 88th minute since the Newcastle match against Everton in January 2020. Southampton become the first bottom team to score three goals against the top team in Premier League history
Although it was not possible to make a great reverse victory, considering what happened on the field, a draw result is not bad for the home team. However, they cannot increase the gap with Man City as originally planned, which means that the pressure in the trip to Etihad in the middle of next week will increase intensely because if they fail in that match, the risk of losing the title. The top of the chart (and the championship title) is huge.
ARSENAL VS SOUTHAMPTON
ARSENAL (4-3-3): Aaron Ramsdale; Ben White, Rob Holding, Gabriel Magalhaes, Oleksandr Zinchenko (Nketiah 72′); Martin Odegaard, Thomas Partey, Fabio Vieira (Trossard 57′); Bukayo Sako, Gabriel Jesus, Gabriel Martinelli.
SOUTHAMPTON (4-4-2): Gavin Bazunu; Kyle Walker-Peters, Jan Bednarek (Caleta-Car 41′), Armel Bella Kotchap, Romain Perraud; Carlos Alcaraz (Lyanco 46′), James Ward-Prowse, Romeo Lavia, Mohamed Elyounoussi; Theo Walcott (Sulemana 77′), Adam Armstrong (Onuachu 77′).