Having secured our first win two weeks ago, the worry was that the unfortunate timing of the international break might have disrupted the momentum generated from that superb win at Liverpool.
Hence, it was a relief when our first goal went in against Southampton with just over 10 minutes played. Gooners will be most familiar with past matches where we have dominated but struggled to carve open the opposition’s defence but thankfully, this wasn’t going to be that kind of match.
Personally, I felt the key to this convincing victory was the willingness of Gervinho and Lukas Podolski to run with the ball directly at the opposing defenders. Perhaps this unsettled the Southampton defenders, and it was via runs from these two that set up Gibbs for two assists, although he might have hoped to claim a goal for himself!
There was some doubt as to how we would line up in attack, and some (including myself) thought Podolski would play a more central role, with Gervinho moving to the left. How wrong we were, and how right Arsene Wenger was.
Lukas does a great job in tracking back and helping Gibbs out, and Arsene probably thought that he didn’t want to lose this stability on our left flank. Gervinho was mobile, as you would expect, and he must be a nightmare to track. Just ask Maya Yoshida.
What this win does is put some of the fears to rest, that we are going to find goals a little hard to come by, after a certain *ahem* striker left us. It may be a little premature on my part, but Podolski’s gem of a freekick made me feel like we aren’t really worse off than last season.
Of course, this was all backed up by another solid defensive display.
Southampton may be bottom of the league, but we must remember this is a team that came close to beating both Manchester teams. Just as in our previous three games, we did well to restrict our opponents’ chances and kept goal machine Rickie Lambert largely anonymous. All this without our first choice defence too!
Yes, we did concede (finally!), but that is certainly not going to stick in my mind. It was nothing more than a lapse of concentration from Szczesny, and you can be sure he will be super motivated to be “on-the-ball” for subsequent games. Also, it’s far better for these mistakes to happen in a game like this than in a tight contest against one of our rivals.
Just a quick mention of the new signing, for whom everything hasn’t quite clicked together yet: from the songs heard at the stadium and at the Arsenal Singapore fan club, it is obvious that the fans are really behind Oliver Giroud.
After his introduction, many of us were cheering for the ball to be played to him, and willing him to break his duck. He puts in a great deal of effort and I’m sure the goals will come in due time, especially if he continues to put himself about and the fans stay supportive.
It is still early days, and there are far greater tests to come. Man City and Chelsea lie in wait after our Champions League opener against Montpellier, so I suspect we will learn a lot more about our team after the next two weeks.
For now, it is obvious that we are in a far better position than we were in one year ago. With a refreshed frontline and a solid-looking backline, I see no reason why we cannot push on and improve on last season’s third-placed finish. Come on you Gunners!!!