Arsenal Home Won 4 – 0
Saints were supposedly undecided between fit-again Stekelenburg or Gazzaniga to face Arsenal, who only needed a solid away performance to reach the top of the league. I doubt if they really thought too long about electing to go with the regular first choice, and then the game had a cagey beginning, with Saints the cagier side until it all erupted in the 20th minute thanks to a wonder strike from Martina – a goal that was shown to be quite remarkable when viewed again on TV, so heaven knows why we couldn’t replay it on the big screen. Closing down Martina to prevent him shooting would not have featured in Arsenal’s team talk – well, the full back wouldn’t have been mentioned at all as his inclusion was a surprise for everybody. Long, meanwhile, was leading the attack as Pellè joined Soares on the injured list, and Long was to come out on top in a running battle with Koscielny that had brought a referee’s lecture before he was cautioned after a petulant reaction to a disallowed goal following a tussle with Mertesacker. He then had a chance to give Saints breathing space before half time but a poor attempt to dink over Cech let him down. Southampton put the ball in the net for a third time when Van Dijk headed home a free kick, but it was ruled out for offside. That was the last disappointment as Long and Mané combined in a swift break that ended with a Long goal, as well as Koscielny controversially on his back. There was no doubt about Saints’ third, though, headed home by Fonte from a corner taken by Bertrand on the right. It was late in the game that the Gunners managed their first close shave but Özil’s shot was just about saved by Stekelenburg, and in any case the visitors’ players looked as though they wanted the chance to slope off early, just like many of their fans. They still had to endure a torrid last few minutes in which substitute López seemed to beat most of the defence a couple of times before missing, and then Long struck the post. Never mind, we thought, converting those opportunities would be best left until the next game two days away, but Long was to crown an emphatic and unexpected win with an injury time fourth anyway.
LSSC Man of the Match: Victor Wanyama. Shane Long probably wonders what he had to do to come out on top but Victor was singled out for praise by Mr. Koeman. There are also those who wonder why Wanyama chose these opponents for his best display in weeks, but let’s enjoy the moment nevertheless.