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West Ham United
September 15, 2012
• Emirates Stadium, London
Referee: K. Friend
• Attendance: 60097
J. Hooiveld 11' (own goal)
L. Podolski 31'
Y. Gervinho 35', 71'
N. Clyne 37' (own goal)
T. Walcott 88'
D. Fox 45'
Any Arsenal fans worried about where the goals were going to come from this season (especially after drawing blanks in the opening two games) will be heartened with eight in the last two matches. Bigger challenges will lie ahead, but the Gunners will go home happy today after a feast of goals. Nigel Adkins and his side are searching for scraps at the moment, and will have to improve if they're to make an impression this year.
Arsene Wenger will be delighted with how his new-look side are coming together. They have two wins and two draws so far this season, and are looking dangerous when going forward, and solid at the back - save for a jittery goalkeeper, that is.
The Ox almost puts the cherry on the top of a very tall cake, but his effort goes narrowly wide. And that's it! An abject performance from Southampton, who will remain rooted to the bottom of the table after a chastening return to the Premier League.
Two minutes of injury time to go, and Arsenal have been a cut above Southampton today. While the Saints have given it a go in the second half, it could have been worse for them - and that's saying something when they've let in six.
SIX FOR ARSENAL!!! Walcott finds the net against his former club, and refuses to celebrate - a nice touch there. After a surging run from Vermaelen ends with the Belgian's shot stinging Davis' hands, the rebound eventually falls to Walcott, who finds the net with a strong left-foot finish. A sorry day for the Saints.
Mertesacker has looked imperious for Arsenal today. He had a tough first season in England but looks much more accomplished this year, picking up good positions, winning headers and tackles, and giving Arsenal's back line an air of calm that's been missing for, frankly, years now.
Arsenal should have six, and Giroud will be frustrated with Walcott failing to pull back a pass for him. The striker would have had a simple finish, but the Englishman dallies on the ball, and ends up wasting the chance as Oxlade-Chamberlain couldn't finish a poor cross. And so Giroud continues to wait for his first goal in England.
Oxlade-Chamberlain aims a speculative effort at the opposite top corner from around 30 yards on the left. You can afford to have a go when you're four goals to the good, but I'm betting that Wenger will want a couple more before time is up.
Southampton haven't totally given up here, but their passing is becoming more ragged. With the introduction of Walcott to inject some pace, it's looking like it could turn in to a rout for Arsenal. The home fans gave Podolski and Gervinho a standing ovation as they were subbed off, and both can be delighted with their perfomances.
GAME OVER!!! Gervinho nets from two yards after fine work from Ramsey. The Welsh substitute takes a good ball from Cazorla and breaks past his marker, but his shot only finds the post. Luckily, the Ivorian forward is on hand to net, and Arsenal's four-goal advantage is restored. A shame for Southampton, and they had been the better side for the past 10 minutes.
Szczesny shanks another clearance straight to a Southampton player 40 yards from goal, but they cannot make the most of the chance and move breaks down. Nigel Adkins will be disappointed that they haven't been able to test Arsenal's keeper more, when he is quite clearly out of form.
The Saints are probing for a way back into the game, but will have to be quick about it. There's always hope though as Szczesny's latest clearance is terrible, and he looks a bundle of nerves out there. Perhaps a few speculative efforts or well-placed crosses could cause the Pole some more problems...
Southampton are looking much better going forward though, and new man Gaston Ramirez looks very comfortable on this stage in possession. They are moving the ball forward well, looking to push down the wings and find Lambert with crosses, just as they did so well against Manchester United two weeks ago.
It could easily have been five there, as Gervinho beats his man on the left, fires in a pass that deflects up and onto Oxlade-Chamberlain's chest and ends up flying wide. The Saints simply cannot deal with the Ivorian, who is enjoying himself out there.
Lambert misses from six yards! Ramirez screws a speculative effort towards goal from 25 yards - in fact it's so speculative that it's going well wide, but Lambert gambled and found himself six yards out. However, the tall striker couldn't stretch far enough to control the effort, and slid the ball wide of Szczesny's far post. A massive chance for Southampton there, who have struggled to create many today.
Nigel Adkins has obviously had a strong word with his defence at half time, and they are playing far higher up the pitch in this second period, closing up the space that Arsenal's creative players found so easily in the first half. Better from the Saints.
Despite being three ahead, Arsenal look hungry for more goals to close this game up once and for all. Southampton do look tighter at the back so far, but are still giving possession away to cheaply - that's unacceptable when you're searching for a three-goal comeback.
Ramirez fires a curled effort at goal, but it's comfortable for Szczesny, who will want to settle any nerves after that late clanger in the first half. That's promising for Southampton though, who looked devoid of any attacking ideas in the first 45 minutes.
We're back underway, and Gaston Ramirez replaces the disappointing Stephen Davis. Welcome to the Premier League, Gaston...
So, the Saints' back line has been a shambles, but can Nigel Adkins rally his troops for a second-half assault on Wenger's defence? The French manager will be purring like a well-fed kitten after that showing, and he'll be particularly pleased by the performance of summer signing Podolski, who looks like a fantastic buy.
Whew, what a first half! Five goals overall, and Wenger's side are having fun out there. The perfect defensive record is gone, but I'm sure Arsenal are happy trading that for four strikes, two of which came courtesy of unfortunate Southampton defenders. Adkins will be livid, but Fox's late strike gives them a faint glimmer of hope for the second half.
LIFELINE!!! Will this Southampton goal change anything? It looks unlikely, but if Szczezny keeps flapping like he did there, then there's always hope for the Saints. A deep cross looks like a routine collection, but the Polish keeper miscues, drops it, falls over, and Daniel Fox finds the empty net with a half volley. Game on?
Own GoalNathaniel Clyne
ANOTHER FOR ARSENAL! Disaster again for Southampton, who have shot themselves in the foot here. Gervinho runs at the back line yet again, and finds Kieran Gibbs, whose cross deflects wickedly off of Clyne and spins into the far corner past a despairing Davis.
IT's THREE!!! Gervinho finds the bottom corner after Arteta chips a delicious through ball over the defenders - again on Southampton's left, which has crumbled to dust today. The Ivorian had time to find a finish which he lashed confidently in at the near post, which Davis could do nothing about. Arsenal are running away with it here.
WHAT A GOAL!!! Podolski bends a gorgeous left-footed effort up and over the wall, leaving Davis flailing as it finds the net. The ball ended up high and central, but such was the swerve and pace on the ball, the goalkeeper wasn't left with much of a chance. Silly free-kick for Davis to give away, and Adkins' side are punished for it.
Stephen Davis clatters through Coquelin, and Arsenal have a free-kick 25 yards from goal...
A poor day for Hooiveld gets worse, as the Southampton defender is replaced by Yoshida with less than half an hour played. He looked to be carrying an injury, but he will be desperately disappointed with how his day has gone.
There's nothing doing for Southampton in the forward positions at the moment - their formation is too rigid, and it is only succeeding in leaving Lambert isolated and the defence exposed as soon as the ball is lost.
Gervinho should do better with his header here, but Arsenal are getting closer to that two-goal cushion. Cazorla makes times for himself and feeds Gibbs down the left-hand side, who is in far too much space. His cross is headed over by the Ivorian. A minute later, Gervinho bends a 25-yard effort wide, but he's getting into the right positions today.
Too comfortable for Arsenal here - they're not having to work with the ball in defence, and the Saints will have to press them higher up the pitch to cause Wenger's side any serious problems.
Gervinho almost caps off a beautiful move by Arsenal following mesmeric passing through a bewildered back line. From the corner, Davis flaps at the ball, the ball is screwed back in, and the keeper redeems himself with a flying effort to deny Mertesacker a strong headed goal.
The pace has slowed slightly here, with Arsenal enjoying the security of that early goal. They are well worth their lead, but will have to be wary of Southampton on the break, and particularly Lambert's aerial strength.
...but Arsenal deal well with it. One of the most impressive aspects of Arsenal's early season form is the fact that they are yet to concede a goal, thanks to the partnership of Mertesacker and Vermaelen forming a strong aerial block to opponents so far.
Arsenal have Southampton rocking in the early stages here, but Southampton relieve the pressure with a corner...
Own GoalJos Hooiveld
GOAL!!! Too deep here Southampton, and Arsenal score courtesy of an owl goal from Hooiveld. Podolski wins the ball 40 yards from goal, and slips Gibbs through on the left. His shot is blocked by Davis, but it squirms through him and in off the legs of Hooiveld into the net.
Panic in the Southampton area here as they can't clear the ball, but they do block Arteta's attempting curling effort into the far corner. Adkins' side are defending very deep here, and need to be careful that they aren't passed into submission. The Ox is looking very dangerous down the right.
Southampton are attempting to get into the game here with calm defensive passing, only to be followed by a hoof forward or a poor pass to concede possession. They'll need to settle down a little bit and attempt to keep possession better than they have so far.
Arteta beautifully finds OXlade-Chamberlain down the right flank, and he fizzes a cross into the box that Cazorla flashes over the bar. Early danger there, with Southampton already looking exposed on their left-hand side.
Podolski lets rip from range but Davis gathers the ball at the second attempt. That was an angry shot. Arsenal are moving the ball about nicely, Gervinho getting down the right well but can't find a teammate with the cut-back.
Gervinho looks like he'll be lining up as the main striker today, with Podolski and Oxlade-Chamberlain breaking in from the flanks - although such is the strength of their movement, they'll probably be floating around each other aiming to bamboozle the Saints' back line.
And we're off!
Gervinho has caused Southampton's back line all kinds of problems today. The Ivorian is drifting around the final third, and has looked deadly in possession, with his opponents simply unable to track his runs. Robin van who?
Arsenal have been utterly dominant here, and if it stays like this, I wouldn't like to be a Southampton fan in the stands in the second half. The game may be gone, but Adkins will want his players to prevent this scoreline from becoming an embarrassment for his side.
It's a big day for Frances Coquelin in the middle for Arsenal, tasked with filling Diaby's boots. He has the talent, but is he ready? We'll soon find out. Elsewhere, Southampton's big summer signing Gaston Ramirez will surely be a threat from the bench as the game wears out - don't be surprised to see him causing trouble in the final 20 minutes.
The sun is shining on the Emirates and the Arsenal fans seem to be in high spirits. The teams are coming out of the tunnel, and we're almost ready for kick-off.
Arsenal's play - through the prodigiously gifted Santi Cazorla - will no doubt be silky smooth today as ever, but Nigel Adkins' side won't be turning up to simply make up the numbers. At times they outplayed both Manchester sides in their previous fixtures, and despite being defeated on both occasions, Saints fans should look forward to this season with genuine optimism.
The main news for Arsenal is that Abou Diaby is out after injuring his knee on international duty. The Frenchman is a big loss for Wenger's side after he put in a man of the match performance at Anfield, and his absence will give Southampton hope that they can battle more effectively in midfield today.
Southampton will be hoping that Ricky Lambert's aerial ability can cause Arsenal some problems, although the GUnners are yet to concede a goal this season. Southampton: K. Davis; Clyne, Fonte, Hooiveld, Fox; Ward-Prowse, Schneiderlin, S. Davis, Puncheon; Lambert, Lallana. Subs: Gazzaniga (GK), Yoshida, Rodriguez, Ramírez, Richardson, Mayuka, Chaplow.
The team news is in, and Giroud starts on the bench for Arsenal. Arsenal: Szczesny; Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Coquelin, Arteta, Cazorla; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gervinho, Podolski. Subs: Koscielny, Santos, Giroud, Walcott, Ramsey, Arshavin, Mannone.
Good afternoon and welcome to Arsenal v Sounthampton at the Emirates. Arsene Wenger's home side will be looking to build on an impressive away win to Liverpool in their last fixture, while Nigel Adkin's men are looking for their first points of the season despite impressive performances against Manchester City and Manchester United.
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