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West Bromwich Albion
West Ham United
November 23, 2013
• 10:15 AM
• Emirates Stadium, London
Referee: M. Clattenburg
• Attendance: 60007
O. Giroud 22', 86'
Hope you enjoyed that as much as I did. See you next time.
After losing to Man Utd before the international break, Arsenal respond with a big, big win against high flying Southampton to stretch their lead at the top back to four points. That gap will remain for the rest of the weekend. Artur Boruc's shambolic decision to hold onto the ball gifted Giroud the opener, and the Frenchman sealed the game from the penalty spot late on.
90' + 4'
That's it! Arsenal grind out an important win!
90' + 3'
Arsene Wenger has instructed his troops to keep the ball and run out the clock, but the Gunners are trying to push forward, and lose the ball. The Frenchman does not look pleased with his charges for that sequence.
90' + 1'
Four minutes of stoppage time to round off this one.
Sagna needs a bit of treatment, but Mark Clattenburg is instructing him to make his way behind the line to do so in order to round this game off quickly.
Giroud, with the confidence coursing through his veins after that goal, whacks a half-volley in with an incredible degree of difficulty. The shot, however, sails into the stands. Hard to fault him though after another tireless shift up front.
Fonte was booked in the aftermath of that penalty from Giroud, after contesting Clatternburg's decision to award the spot-kick.
Yellow Card José Fonte
Penalty Goal Olivier Giroud
GIROUD MAKES IT 2-0!! The Frenchman fires the spot-kick past Boruc and into the bottom right corner to all but seal the win for the home side.
PENALTY TO ARSENAL! Clatternburg points to the spot after Fonte had clearly pulled Mertesacker back at a corner.
STAT: Southampton's win ratio against Arsenal in the Premier League (14%) is the lowest of any side they've played more than three times in the competition. (via Opta)
The game is really opening up in the closing stages here, as Southampton push forward in search of a late equaliser and Arsenal try to catch them out on the counter.
Wenger makes his final change of the afternoon – introducing Nacho Monreal at the expense of Ozil.
VERY GOOD PLAY FROM BORUC! After a spell of Southampton pressure Arsenal look to counter quickly through Walcott but the away team's goalkeeper has other ideas as he rushes from his line to nod the ball away from danger.
WANYAMA FIRES OVER! The resulting corner falls to the former Celtic man on the edge of the box but his rasping strike flies a couple of yards over Szczesny's crossbar.
LAMBERT EFFORT DEFLECTED WIDE! The England international wins the ball well in the air under pressure from Gibbs, exchanges passes with Rodriguez, and then sees a rising shot deflect behind off the back of Mertesacker.
And there is that pesky flag again! Wanyama clears the ball with his head but it is sent straight back into the area by Koscielny. Giroud looks to let the ball fall over his shoulder and send a left foot effort at goal but play is stopped with the Frenchman deemed to be in an offside position.
Mikel Amatrian Arteta
Osvaldo powers forward from the centre circle, brushing off a couple of challenges on his way to the penalty area, before lashing a low strike at goal that Szczesny has to parry and then collect.
Another change for the Gunners – this time an unplanned one. Arteta appeared to strain something as he stretched for the ball and after a brief chat with a physio he is promptly replaced by Tomas Rosicky.
Ozil toys with four Southampton players in quick succession with a medley of neat passes on the left-hand side. Lovely stuff from the former Real Madrid schemer.
And there is that change for Arsenal. Walcott comes on to provide the home side with his searing pace in attack. Cazorla is the man that makes way.
Clyne thinks he was clipped as he thundered down the left wing for Southampton, but Clatternburg was having absolutely none of it. There looked to be contact from Sagna there, but the referee thought otherwise.
Mr Walcott is warming up for Arsenal and looks set to be introduced. The nippy attacker will no doubt relish an opportunity to play against the team where he started his career.
GOOD PLAY FROM HOOIVELD! The Dutchman reads the play well to dispossess Ramsey inside the Southampton box after a fine first-time pass from Cazorla had set the Welshman through on goal.
The artistic Spaniard floats the ball towards the back post but it poses no problems to the Southampton back-line as Fonte heads it clear.
Fonte is penalised after colliding with Giroud and the home side have a free kick 45 yards out that Arteta will take...
STAT: Southampton have had 58 per cent of possession in the second half, but they have not tested Szczesny since the interval.
The Gunners win a corner on the left, which is taken short by Cazorla to Ozil. The German sends a dangerous cross into the box but play is stopped for an apparent foul by Giroud as he tussles with Wanyama in an attempt to meet the ball.
A lovely no-look pass from Ozil finds Ramsey in space on the right and he has time to look up and curl a cross into the box – sadly for Arsenal though it is easily gobbled up by Boruc.
Gibbs ambles down the left side for Arsenal and tries to clip a cross in to Giroud, but Ward-Prowse does well to throw his body in front of it and stop the ball reaching the France international.
Koscielny's face just produced a vital interception on the edge of the Arsenal area as Osvaldo looked to dink a pass towards Lambert on the right side of the box.
Ramsey tries to flick a pass through to Giroud inside the Southampton box but he is thwarted by the flag of the linesman on the far side. Free kick to Southampton inside their own penalty area.
It looks like Lambert is moving out to the right-hand side to accommodate Osvaldo in the centre. The Englishman looks far less comfortable pushed out wide, which makes the withdrawal of Lallana even more baffling.
That is a surprising change for the away side! Osvaldo comes on as expected – but it is the in-form Lallana that is removed to make space for him.
LALLANA SHOOTS STRAIGHT AT SZCZESNY! The visitors' skipper has a chance to test Arsenal's goalkeeper after the ball is teed up to him invitingly by Rodriguez, but his effort arrows straight into the arms of Szczesny.
Pochettino looks set to make a second change hot on the heels of Southampton's first, with Pablo Osvaldo, the club's record signing, warming up on the sideline.
Davis' first taste of action is to sweep a cross into the Arsenal box from the right, but it is comfortable for Mertesacker to deal with as he nods the ball away and into the path of Arteta.
The flag goes up against Lallana for Southampton, but the decision has little bearing on play as Koscielny had emerged triumphant in that aerial duel anyway.
Yellow Card Victor Wanyama
That switch means Clyne moves over to left-back, Ward-Prowse drops in at right-back and Davis lines up in midfield.
Southampton have been forced into a change at the break, with Shaw, who picked up an injury in that first half, being replaced by Steven Davis.
We are back underway at the Emirates...
Arsenal could have had one or two more though, with Ramsey and Wilshere both striking the left-hand post with audacious efforts. The Welshman clipped the woodwork with an opportunistic flick, while Wilshere saw a superb chip from a tight angle bounce off the post and away.
HALF-TIME: ARSENAL 1-0 SOUTHAMPTON Arsene Wenger's side deservedly lead at the break thanks in part to a moment of woeful indecision from the Saints' goalkeeper Artur Boruc. Olivier Giroud pounced in the 22nd minute to dispossess Boruc and sweep the ball into an empty net. The goalkeeper had two or three opportunities to clear the ball but failed to take any of them.
45' + 3'
And there is the half-time whistle! Arsenal lead at the break through Giroud.
45' + 2'
Yellow Card Jos Hooiveld
45' + 2'
There is a yellow card late in the half for Hooiveld after he caught Giroud when the Frenchman had pushed the ball past him.
Boruc is not going to get caught out by Giroud again. The goalkeeper is launching the ball upfield as quickly as possible whenever it is played back to him now.
Giroud clatters into Schneiderlin on the halfway line and the Southampton medical team are quickly on their feet as the midfielder goes down clutching his head. After a short spell on the deck he is fit to continue though.
Cazorla drifts the set piece towards Mertesacker but it is nodded away at the near post by Lambert. Ozil gets a chance to swing a cross back into the mixer but his touch uncharacteristically lets him down and the ball goes flying out for a throw.
Arsenal have a corner late in the half and a chance to add a second...
STRONG DEFENDING FROM KOSCIELNY! The Frenchman allows Rodriguez to move forward down the right before lunging in and stealing possession with a brilliant challenge.
TERRIFIC PLAY FROM SOUTHAMPTON! Rodriguez controls the ball superbly with a deft touch 16 yards from goal and then tops the move off with an ambitious Di-Canio-esque scissor-kick that is palmed away by Szczesny.
Ward-Prowse lifts a high cross in the direction of Rodriguez on the penalty spot but Szczesny sprints off his line to catch the ball.
And now Lambert is offside. Both sides are peeved by that decision, Lambert doesn't think he was off and Arsenal wanted to play the advantage as they looked to stream forward down the right wing.
SOMETIMES YOU WISH OFFSIDE DIDN'T EXIST... Ozil and Ramsey exchange passes beautifully high on the right, with the Welshman setting the Germany international away inside the box with a cushioned flick only for play to be brought to a resounding halt by the linesman's flag.
Giroud is moving gingerly again! The Arsenal goalscorer has been in the wars in this first half, clashing awkwardly with Southampton defenders on two occasions.
A cross from Shaw on the left bounces all the way through to Szczesny and prompts a frustrated glance from Lambert, who was wanting better from his young team-mate.
SUPER EFFORT FROM LALLANA! Giroud's clearance goes only as far as Lallana on the edge of the Arsenal box though and the Southampton skipper sends a delicious dipping volley at goal that is tipped over the bar well by Szczesny.
Ward-Prowse whips a free kick towards Lambert at the back post but Giroud is there inside his own box to nod the ball away.
Arsenal don't have the ball for long though, as Schneiderlin wins it back from Giroud with a bone-crunching slide tackle on the halfway line. Top work in the centre of the park there from the Southampton midfielder.
Southampton move the ball well down the right through Clyne, Lambert and Rodriguez, only to lose possession because of an over-cooked pass.
STAT: Southampton have conceded just eight goals in their last 14 Premier League games and have never conceded more than once in a match during this run. (via Opta)
Boruc has clearly learnt from his catastrophic error a few minutes ago as he smashes a clearance into the Arsenal half.
That was top pressing from Giroud though – as soon as he sensed a chance to dispossess the Southampton goalkeeper he was on him in a flash and his quick-thinking has put the hosts one-up.
Goal Olivier Giroud
WHAT IS BORUC DOING?! GIROUD PUTS ARSENAL AHEAD! The Polish goalkeeper has two or three chances to clear the ball after it is played back to him by Clyne, but he dallies – and then dallies again – which allows Giroud to steal the ball from him and slide an easy finish into the unguarded net.
Victor Wanyama catches Wilshere 20 yards from Boruc's goal and despite the Arsenal man appealing for a free kick, Mr Clattenburg gestures for play to continue.
Shaw is clearly struggling for Southampton at left-back after picking up that knock earlier on and Arsenal are looking to take full advantage of his discomfort by overloading their right-hand side.
SO NEARLY A WONDERFUL GOAL FROM RAMSEY! The Wales international produces a marvellous instinctive flick to direct Ozil's cross from the right towards goal, but again that left-hand post thwarts Arsenal, as the ball crashes off the woodwork before being cleared away.
Wilshere has been prominent for the hosts in the opening 17 minutes, flittering between Southampton's defence and midfield and picking out his team-mates with a series of clever touches.
STAT: Only Arsenal, 22, have won more points in the Barclays Premier League since the start of September than Southampton, 18. (via Opta)
Shaw looked to be suffering with an ailment after a clash on the near side a few minutes ago, but he seems to have recovered and has taken his place back at left-back for the Saints.
Boruc is out quickly from his line to sweep the ball into the stands for Southampton. The goalkeeper had Giroud thundering down on him attempting to retrieve a curling pass forward from Sagna there and it was a composed piece of play.
SUPER PLAY FROM WILSHERE! The England international ghosts through the Southampton defence and flicks an audacious chip over Boruc from an excruciatingly tight angle, but it bounces agonisingly off the left-hand post before being grabbed gratefully by the recovering Boruc.
A cheeky Cruyff turn from Per Mertesacker of all people relieves the pressure on Arsenal's defence, with Southampton's front four doing their thing by pushing high up the pitch whenever the home side are in possession.
GREAT CHALLENGE FROM SHAW! The Southampton full-back throws himself in front of Jack Wilshere to block the Arsenal man's shot from the edge of the area.That was a timely intervention from the in-demand left-back.
Southampton are sweeping the ball around neatly in the opening exchanges here, as are Arsenal for that matter. Neither side have probed into the penalty area yet though.
Olivier Giroud appears to have picked up a knock early on here, which will be a huge cause of concern for Wenger, who spoke before the game of their lack of options to replace the Frenchman should he sustain an injury. Wenger must have momentarily forgotten that he does of course have Nicklas Bendtner on the bench.
Kieran Gibbs launches into a tackle on Jay Rodriguez on the left side for the Gunners which causes the ball to ricochet into the advertising hoardings and the Southampton attacker to crumple to the deck. Only a throw awarded to the visitors though, as the Arsenal full-back won the ball cleanly.
That's a horrid goal kick from Arthur Boruc, straight to Aaron Ramsey in the Arsenal midfield, but fortunately for the goalkeeper the Welshman misplaces a pass forward and the away side are able to get the ball back.
And away we go! Mark Clattenburg, sporting a rare mid-season tan, blows his whistle to get this game started...
Out come the two sides at the Emirates, 15 minutes later than planned. But it's an encouraging sign for the fans that have made it to the stadium and means we are just minutes away from kick-off.
STAT #2: But the Saints are up against it this afternoon, playing against a team they have not beaten away in the league since November 1987. Since then Arsenal have won 13 and drawn five.
STAT #1: Pochettino's men have lost just one match so far this season - a record matched only by Everton - and they are looking to extend their unbeaten run to nine.
How about a couple of impressive stats to wile away the minutes before kick-off?
SOUTHAMPTON TEAM NEWS: There is just the one change for the visitors, as Jos Hooiveld slips in at centre-back in place of Dejan Lovren, who is ruled out through illness.
ARSENAL TEAM NEWS: The home side make two changes from the defeat to Manchester United - Per Mertesacker is back for Thomas Vermaelen, and Mathieu Flamini makes way for Jack Wilshere. Former Southampton teen superstar Theo Walcott is on the bench against his old side, after a spell on the sidelines with an abdominal injury.
SUBS: Gazzaniga, Yoshida, S. Davis, Osvaldo, Chambers, Reed, Gallagher
SOUTHAMPTON (4-2-3-1): Boruc; Clyne, Fonte, Hooiveld, Shaw; Wanyama, Schneiderlin; Ward-Prowse, Lallana, Rodriguez; Lambert
SUBS: Fabianski, Vermaelen, Monreal, Rosicky, Walcott, Gnabry, Bendtner
ARSENAL (4-2-3-1): Szczesny; Sagna, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Gibbs; Arteta, Ramsey; Wilshere, Ozil, Cazorla; Giroud
Without further ado, let's have a quick look at the way each time are lining up for this fixture...
Apparently a small fixture in Liverpool has just finished 3-3 – which means Arsenal could go four points clear at the top with a win today OR Southampton could leaprog Liverpool in second should they grab a victory. A result of that nature would leave them level on points with their opponents this afternoon.
KICK-OFF DELAYED: This game will kick off 15 minutes later than scheduled due to transport problems in the local area, which means you have an extra 15 minutes of build-up from me. What more could you want?!
My name is Charlie Scott and I'm your designated scribe for this afternoon's action. Will Mauricio Pochettino's men continue their stunning start to the season by taking a point or three from the league leaders? Or will the Gunners produce a repeat of Southampton's last trip to the Emirates, when Arsene Wenger's side trounced the South coast outfit 6-1?
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen and welcome to LIVE coverage of the Premier League clash at the Emirates which pits top-of-the-table Arsenal against third-placed Southampton.
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