Southampton 3-2 Arsenal: 3 reasons why Arsenal lost the close encounter | Premier League 2018-19

The Arsenal equaliser never came even after repeated attempts
The Arsenal equaliser never came even after repeated attempts

Southampton inflicted a shock loss upon The Gunners, as they won a close encounter, ending Arsenal’s 22 game unbeaten run. Southampton went ahead via a Danny Ings goal in the 20th minute, but as has been the case throughout the campaign, The Gunners leveled in the 28th minute through Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Southampton then went into halftime restoring their advantage, as Nathan Redmond scored the second goal.

The second half was evenly fought as Arsenal found a way through Mkhitaryan again to restore parity in the match. But a Bernd Leno error in the 85th minute gave Southampton a much-needed win under new management.

Substitute Charlie Austin scored the winner with the crowd going crazy, and the Arsenal equaliser never came even after repeated attempts from the front-line.

Here are the 3 reasons why Arsenal lost the close encounter.

#1 Unai Emery’s tactical blunder

Unai Emery
Unai Emery

Arsenal had to deal with injury problems in the game, with most of its front-line defenders injured or suspended. Sokratis and Mustafi had been the starters under Unai, but their suspension made him use a makeshift team, as Koscielny returning from a long-term injury became the main man in defense, and Xhaka as well as Lichtsteiner playing on either side of the Frenchman.

Arsenal were not able to deal with the high balls as Xhaka and Lichtsteiner were not familiar with their new roles. Xhaka left some big holes in the defense, as he tried to run too often with the ball, misplacing important passes.

Bellerin’s poor game, & an injury reduced Arsenal’s power in defense, and this was exploited by Ings and then Austin. Bellerin really struggled at the right wing back position, as both first-half goals came from the right side of Arsenal’s defense. Unai will have a big headache regarding his defenders in the next game.

#2 Bernd Leno’s error

Charlie Austin had a simple chance to finish
Charlie Austin had a simple chance to finish

Bernd Leno has been good for The Gunners after claiming the starting spot from Cech. But today was the day when the difference between a good goalkeeper and a great keeper made Arsenal lose 3 points.

Just a few days back, the Liverpool keeper, Alisson, made a world class save against Napoli in stoppage time to take his team through to the knockout stages, but here was Leno making a crucial error in the 85th minute of the match.

Leno came out to try and hold onto Shane Long’s cross, but the ball slipped through his hands and fell on Charlie Austin’s head, and he had a simple chance to finish.

Arsenal’s inability to field the same defense in subsequent matches is proving to be the deterrent for The Gunners with regards keeping a clean sheet, and shipping 2-3 goals on a regular basis will not take them anywhere closer to Liverpool or Manchester City.

#3 Injuries piling up at the business end of the season

Hector Bellerin limped off at half-time
Hector Bellerin limped off at half-time

Arsenal had a patched-up defense, given the injuries to Rob Holding and Kolasinac, and the suspension of Sokratis and Mustafi. Hector Bellerin limped off at half-time, adding one more name on the treatment table, and Unai Emery would want some major signings in defense during the January transfer window.

Wednesday’s EFL quarter-final against Tottenham will give a headache to Emery, as he would be confused which players to play in the derby.

Koscielny’s return was the only strong point for Arsenal, and Unai would be hoping his captain is fit enough to play 90 minutes in the next game. Monreal may have to take Xhaka’s position in central defense, as the Swiss is prone to making errors at the wrong time for The Gunners.

Whatever the combination is, it will still be a makeshift one for the Arsenal team. The January transfer window is what all Arsenal fans are looking at now.

Edited by Anthony Akatugba Jr.


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