Arsenal 2-0 Saints
No mishaps concerning the usual starters after the international break, but Ramirez must fly ultra-budget as he rarely arrives back in time to be considered. However, there is a mystery bug going round the camp, and Lovren succumbed to it, forcing a recall for Hooiveld at Arsenal.
This fixture turned out to be a contest between second and third, with the winners going top – something beyond the expectations of the TV bosses, who gave us a Saturday afternoon start, and Arsenal’s box office who priced tickets at a competitive £25.50.
That was where the good news ended for Saints fans, with a delayed kick off turning out to be the least of the disappointments. Luck still seemed to be in when Wilshere and then Ramsey both struck the post with almost sublime finishing, but you don’t need anything as sophisticated when Boruc is in a generous mood.
The ‘keeper’s distribution was already looking wayward before a pantomime display in the 22nd minute ended with Giroud walking the ball into the empty net – we’ve must all have seen the clip by now, and with each viewing wondered at what point Artur would decide to plant the ball in the stand, but instead he persisted in taking on an international outfield player for skill. Saints looked capable of pulling back the deficit, but Poland’s new number one, Szczesny, produced a couple of good saves before the break.
Shaw had taken a knock and didn’t appear for the second half as Saints moved to three at the back, but they no longer seemed as creative against a defence that is not always the most reliable.
Osvaldo replaced Lallana, rather surprisingly while Rodriguez was displaying his England form, but to no great effect, and the Gunners eventually put the game to bed with a Giroud penalty after Fonte had pulled back Mertesacker at a corner.
In this season’s most delayed display of dissent the defender ended up in the referee’s book following the goal – that sort of dumb afternoon really.
LSSC Man of the Match: Victor Wanyama (again) for out-tackling everybody (again). Honourable mention for Schneiderlin who ensured the three-defender tactic didn’t go pear-shaped.