News Matches

Southampton v Arsenal Live Commentary, 10/05/2017

0 - 2
A. Sánchez (60)
O. Giroud (83)
St. Mary's Stadium


That's all for our live coverage, thanks for following along. Goodbye!
Alexis Sanchez blew the doors off an otherwise uneventful match with a brilliant individual strike on the hour, before Olivier Giroud put the game to bed just three minutes after coming off the bench. It's a crucial three points for Arsenal in the scope of the race for top four, while Southampton continue to sputter to their worst finish since 2013.
Héctor Bellerín
Yellow Card
Bellerin picks up a late and completely unnecessary booking.
The fourth official raises his board to indicate an additional three minutes added on at the end of this match, one of which has already been run off the clock by the Gunners as they knock it about in calm fashion.
F. Coquelin
M. Özil
Wenger makes his final change here, as Francis Coquelin comes on to help see out the points, with Ozil the one replaced.
Arsenal will travel to Stoke on Saturday, before closing out their season with home games against Sunderland and Everton. Maximum points certainly aren't out of their reach, but they will require help from elsewhere. Liverpool visit West Ham and host Middlesbrough, while City host Leicester and West Brom before visiting Watford on the final day of the season.
Well if this isn't a warning to Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United, I don't know what is. Arsenal are set to follow up their strong effort against United on Sunday with another three points tonight, as they blow the doors open on the race for top four. This victory takes them up into fifth place, in striking distance of both Manchester City and Liverpool
A. Ramsey
Ramsey provides the assist with that clever bit of unselfish play.
O. Giroud
OFF TO THE RACES! The top-four race, that is, for Arsenal, who have the three points wrapped up now surely at St. Mary's! Sanchez floats in a terrific cross to the far post for Ramsey, who unselfishly sends a cushioned header back across goal for an unmarked Giroud to tap in!
STAT: Arsenal are winless in their five previous away visits to St Mary’s in the Premier League, last winning there in December 2003 (D3 L2).
J. Rodríguez
D. Tadić
Southampton's has Jay Rodriguez enter the fray at the expense of Tadic.
O. Giroud
D. Welbeck
Changes for both sides here, the third for Southampton and second for Arsenal. The visitors's swap sees Olivier Giroud come on for Welbeck.
Lovely skill, dreadful finish! Boufal has options, but decides to take on the whole Arsenal team - and does so impressively! He twists and turns beyond four defenders atop the box, opening up space for a shot, but gets the contact all wrong in the end as it drifts miles wide of the mark.
He's missed it! What a chance that was for Gabbiadini, who is presented with a glorious opportunity to test Cech at the near post, but he swipes at thin air, failing to strike the ball! That's a bit embarrassing for the striker, who has not had the most convincing go of it in the past few weeks.
Gabbiadini isn't providing enough of a target up top, and Long's positioned himself a bit to deep to help matters. The substitute needs to get up there and partner the Italian - his runs off the ball could really help to open up space against Arsenal's three-man defence.
M. Özil
Yellow Card
Southampton have upped the tempo here and Arsenal are feeling the pressure a bit. Ozil goes into the book here for a foul on Redmond on the left.
STAT: Shane Long scored twice the last time Southampton hosted Arsenal in the Premier League, a 4-0 rout on Boxing Day 2015.
S. Boufal
J. Ward-Prowse
Their second swap sees Ward-Prowse replaced by Sofiane Boufal.
S. Long
N. Redmond
Shane Long replaces Redmond as Southampton make their first change of the match.
Bertrand does well on the flank to get forward on the overlap and pick out an appropriate final ball for Ward-Prowse, but the midfielder is unable to get the desired contact on it, under pressure from defender and keeper. That might be his last contribution of the night, as Puel has readied a pair of substitutes.
Southampton don't appear to have a response in them, at least not for the time being. They need to be fearless going forward, with nothing to lose really. Right now they're timid and unsure of themselves in possession - not a recipe to turn this game around.
That goal has really lifted things at St. Mary's. It lifted Arsene Wenger off his seat, as well as Arsenal's top-four hopes. An otherwise miserable last few months can be put completely behind them with a strong finish to the season - and they're on course for it now.
STAT: Southampton have not beaten a side in the Premier League's top six this season.
M. Özil
Ozil provides the assist on what was otherwise a goal of great individual skill from Sanchez.
A. Sánchez
MY WORD! ALEXIS SANCHEZ, YOU ARE MAGNIFICENT! A goal of the highest quality from Sanchez who turns brilliantly after taking a pass from Ozil, then switches onto his left to leave both Stephens and Yoshida in his dust, before finishing brilliantly inside the near post!
Southampton can finish as high as eighth this season, mathematically, which will be viewed as a disappointment for them. That being said, while their chances at Europe have long ago been dashed, they will be motivated to at least finish the campaign in the top half for the fourth successive season.
Sanchez has drifted out wide to support Gibbs, and it's really redefined Arsenal's approach in attack. Southampton are being stretched more to combat it, and that's left bigger pockets of space in the centre for the likes of Ozil and Ramsey to exploit.
Arsenal have swung momentum quickly and impressively here, now looking very much the brighter side going forward. Southampton may be left to rue not making more of their spell in the ascendency. That being said, the Gunners have yet to really test Forster.
STAT: Arsene Wenger’s side have lost five of their last six away Premier League games – the same number they’d lost in their previous 27 on the road in the competition.
GOOD CHANCE! Bellerin finds acres of space on the right and picks out an appropriate cross in for Ramsey, who takes the chance first-time, and his effort is redirected on the way through by Welbeck, but wide of the near post!
Southampton have bossed possession in the early stages of this second half, picking up where they left off in the end of the first. Momentum is very much on their side at the moment, as Arsenal are in danger of letting their top-four hopes slip away.
Back underway at St. Mary's!
Scoreless at the break at St. Mary's but signs of better things to come in the second half as the first ended on a real high. Nathan Redmond came close for the hosts late on, while Arsenal were starting to find a bit of a rhythm themselves. It's on a knife edge in advance of the second half.
There will be two minutes added on at the end of this first half.
J. Ward-Prowse
Yellow Card
Southampton ending the half on a real high, and there's a great purpose and pace about them. Arsenal win the ball back, however, and break quickly, with the hosts exposed, so Ward-Prowse drags down Welbeck from behind to stop the break. Clear yellow for the midfielder, who has no complaints.
WHAT A STRIKE! Redmond unloads an absolute bullet from 30 yards that is marked for the top corner, but Cech comes flying through the air to get a strong touch to it to turn it over the bar! That may have even nicked the crossbar on the way behind!
CLOSE! Gabbiadini lines up a free-kick from 25 yards and it looks good as it leaves his left foot, but there's too much bend on it in the end as it sails just beyond the top corner. Southampton continue to threaten.
STAT: Southampton have failed to score in three of their last four home Premier League, the exception being a 3-1 win over Crystal Palace.
Héctor Bellerín
A. Oxlade-Chamberlain
Arsenal waste no time getting a replacement ready, as Hector Bellerin comes on for Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Bit disappointing, this, for both the player and the match itself, as Oxlade-Chamberlain goes down and is in need of attention. First and foremost it's important that he's ok, but the timing couldn't be much worse for a prolonged stoppage. It looks like he won't be able to continue, though, which is a real shame.
The tempo continues to pick up as we approach the latter stages of this first half. Southampton have nothing to play for to close out the season, so it's refreshing to see them realise that and attack with some intensity - but that seems to have sparked Arsenal's desire as well.
It's really starting to open up now as Southampton take the shackles off! It's much easier on the eye, as a game of football has actually broken out at St. Mary's. Arsenal narrowly escape twice at one end as Gabbiadini almost latches onto a pair of chances, before a fine tackle at the other end from Stephens denies Ozil a shooting chance.
STAT: Southampton have managed just 10 shots on target across their last five Premier League games and recorded none against Liverpool in the 0-0 draw on Sunday.
The hosts are enjoying a decent spell in attack here, but it's all too slow from them in the build-up, which allowed Arsenal to get their shape back. They're still commanding the ball, are Southampton, but they have a sea of blue shirts to get through, while lacking the required creativity to do so.
One thing Southampton need to do is cut down on the time that elapses between their breaks. It's times like these where you see just how much they miss someone like a Sadio Mane - someone who can pick up the ball and drive forward with it at a stretched defence.
It remains all very contemplative and pedestrian from Arsenal, who are being invited forward by Southampton, but still have been unable to produce much in terms of creativity. The hosts are content to sit back and put the responsibility on Arsenal, a gameplan which has worked to perfection thus far.
Patient possession but not yet penetrative from Arsenal, as they struggle to solve this Southampton defence. Their latest attack produces some good signs, but Sanchez's throughball for Gibbs is horrendously controlled by the full-back as it runs behind for a goal-kick.
STAT: Manolo Gabbiadini scored four goals in his first three Premier League appearances (248 mins), but since then he’s failed to score and attempted just one shot on target in 306 Premier League minutes (five apps).
Safe hands from Cech! You get the sense that Southampton's best opportunities throughout the night will come on the break. Gabbiadini does well to provide an outlet, straying out wide to get onto the ball and drive forward. He plays a low cross into the centre to try and meet the run of Tadic, but Cech is out first, smartly, to collect.
First real chance for Arsenal and it comes off the back of a corner. It's played in for Ozil, who cleverly picks out a pass for Ramsey in a nice pocket of space in the box, but he places his first-time effort wide of the near post! That really has to be on target.
Arsenal are lacking the required width to their approach in attack. Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gibbs are options out wide, but they're far too isolated when the ball comes out to them, forced to play it right back into the congested centre of the pitch. Ozil and Sanchez need to get wider.
There's not much tempo to this match thus far, with both sides still looking to settle in really. Arsenal have struggled a bit to get into the final third, despite enjoying plenty of possession, while Southampton have looked threatening on the break at times, only to be let down by their end product.
STAT: Southampton are looking to win three consecutive home league matches against Arsenal for the first time since 1985.
There's a great atmosphere tonight at St. Mary's for this midweek clash. It always seems to be hit or miss on these weeknight matches, but with the season winding down and Arsenal in for a visit, these Saints supporters have made it out in full force.
Arsenal have responded well to Southampton's fervent start, bossing possession encouragingly just inside the attacking half, but they're not posing much of a threat. The Gunners are keen to keep the ball and hem Southampton back, not yet looking for that incisive ball in.
Bright start from Southampton, who waste no time getting in the ascendency, attacking with intend down the left flank through Redmond. The winger finds space and cuts inside before pulling it back for Davis, but the midfielder's first-time effort is scuffed well wide of the near post.
AND THEY'RE OFF! Arsenal in their changed dark-blue away strip, with yellow trim, as they get the match underway, attacking left to right, with Southampton in red and white.
Arsene Wenger also makes just the one change from Sunday's victory over Manchester United, though his hand has been forced. Shkodran Mustafi replaces Laurent Koscielny in the back-three, with the Frenchman missing out due to a calf injury.
Claude Puel makes just one change to his side from the scoreless draw at Anfield. Nathan Redmond is brought into the attacking trident at the expense of Sofiane Boufal, flanking striker Manolo Gabbiadini, along with Dusan Tadic.
SUBS: Gabriel, Giroud, Ospina, Walcott, Iwobi, Bellerin, Coquelin.
ARSENAL (3-4-3): Cech; Holding, Mustafi, Monreal; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Xhaka, Gibbs; Ozil, Sanchez, Welbeck.
SUBS: Long, Rodriguez, Caceres, Boufal, Hojbjerg, Pied, Hassen.
SOUTHAMPTON (4-3-3): Forster; Cedric, Stephens, Yoshida, Bertrand; Davis, Romeu, Ward-Prowse; Tadic, Redmond, Gabbiadini.
A lot of the burden has fallen on the shoulders of manager Claude Puel, who arrived at St. Mary’s with some big shoes to fill, succeeding Ronald Koeman and Mauricio Pochettino. After finishing with 63, 60 and 56 points in the last three seasons, Southampton have a meagre 42 with four games remaining, paling in comparison.
Southampton are headed for their worst point haul in a Premier League season since their return to the top flight in 2012/13. Saints have improved each season since their promotion, but have taken a massive step back in 2016/17.
The Gunners are six points back of Manchester City for fourth place, with a game in hand, and seven back of Liverpool for third with two games in hand. Victory today would thrust them right back in the mix, while anything but three points would put an unmistakable dent in their hopes.
Arsenal picked up a vital three points on Sunday over Manchester United to keep their top-four hopes alive, but the pressure remains very much on Arsene Wenger and company, who will have to be near perfect to close out the season if they are to qualify for the Champions League.
Hello and welcome to live coverage from St. Mary’s Stadium as Arsenal visit Southampton, with their margin for error in the top-four race razor thin.