Arsenal Away Lost 2 – 1
Arsenal lined up with new signings Mustafa and Lucas in their side, but Saints fans have to wait before Sofiane Boufal is fit enough to be revealed – a fair percentage of the season will have passed by before we get to see our most expensive purchase ever. I think you could choose any amongst Romeu, Davis, Clasie, Ward-Prowse and Højbjerg to be the three defensive midfield players in Claude Puel’s system, and the first amongst that list got the starting call at The Emirates Stadium. It was midfielder-come-forward, Redman, who broke the deadlock by winning a free kick on the edge of the box; Van Dijk and Tadić lined it up before the latter saw his effort tipped onto the bar by Čech and then wheeled away in delight as the ball dropped on top of the prone keeper and thence into the net. We know Southampton’s league record on any Arsenal ground is poor, with no wins since 1987, but you have to go back to go back to 2012 for a goal (scant consolation in a 6-1 reverse), 2004 since we last took the lead (Delap’s late brace still not enough to gain the win at Highbury) and 1993 since we last scored first there (Iain Dowie). This latest period of ascendency lasted until the half hour, when Koscielny equalised with an unlikely overhead kick from a corner that could possibly have ended up anywhere in N5. Saints had Rodriguez up front instead of Austin and still ahead of Long, whom you would have thought best suited to the point of attack role. He appeared after the break, but Long’s willingness isn’t matched by his finishing and sadly he was to waste a golden chance to regain the lead and re-write the record books. Another opportunity came his way following Čech’s save from another sub, Højbjerg, but when you’re hot, you’re hot, and when you’re not, you’re Long. At the other end, Forster was forced into a couple of sharp saves but we were looking comfortable as the game moved into added time. Parity was soon lost in the additional period as the team struggled to clear their lines following a corner and then Fonte was adjudged to have conceded the side’s third penalty (and his second) in a season only four games old. It was a harsh decision for a clumsy challenge on Koscielny, but Cazorla judged that Forster would make every effort to dive to a corner and so smacked the kick down the middle for a winner that wasn’t really deserved.
LSSC Man of the Match: Duŝan Tadić, but I’m afraid he still can’t claim what has to go down as a Čech own goal.
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