Arsenal Home Lost 0 – 2
During these peculiar times, our home stadium has been surrounded by a 12 foot high olive green solid metal barrier and for all I know they may have laid barbed wire and landmines in the no-mans-land leading up to the building itself. Fortress St. Mary’s? We wish! The team slumped to yet another home defeat, this time against ‘crisis club’ Arsenal and as has happened so often, a promising beginning drifted into a difficult 90 minutes, not helped by two goals gifted to grateful opponents. Aubameyang exploited a weakness on the right flank but uncharacteristically could only hit the underside of the bar before McCarthy gave the ball away in circumstances that defy description and Nketiah walked it home. Ralph had named an unchanged side but at half time he replaced the two weakest players from the Norwich game, Valery and Obafemi, and Saints began to look much more likely, with substitute Long forcing Martínez into his most meaningful save. Then with time running out, Højbjerg attempted a lazy backward pass that left Stephens playing catch-up against Aubameyang and his desperate challenge was just too late to avoid not only a free kick but also a red card. Lacazette had two efforts from the set piece, the first blocked and the second parried by the hapless McCarthy into the path of Willock who put the game to bed. I really don’t like McCarthy: nothing personal, I just don’t think he’s good enough, and neither is Gunn. The manager hasn’t too many grey hairs yet, but his beard is going that way, and I’m not surprised.
The Norwich game was the first Southampton game I’ve seen ‘live’ on TV, this one was my ‘raw’ Sky TV debut, thanks to a generous offer to season ticket holders by SFC. Sky are a disgrace! After filling the build-up at Norwich with a preview of Spurs v. Muppets, every aspect of the action here was presented from Arsenal’s point of view: just one example came when Saints were on top in the second period and Alan Smith told us ‘Arsenal can’t seem to get hold of the ball’ – not at all ‘Southampton are playing well at the moment.’ This is broadcast market forces in the raw: they’re not interested in the likes of you and I, having regard to The Gooners’ far wider fan base.
LSSC Man of the Match: Stuart Armstrong. If you think that’s just delayed reward for his performance in the previous game, you may well be right.