Arsenal v Saints Match Review: Giroud Is Not Afraid!

Arsenal 1 – 0 Southampton

Thanking The Guardian for picture
Thanking The Guardian for picture

Now that was a game of football. It might not win many beauty awards, and the neutrals will only have liked the second part of the second half; but, from a tactical point of view, very good football was on display tonight.

Koeman developed his initial playing career under Guus Hiddink’s wings, and his current Southampton team play football like PSV Eindhoven used to do under Hiddink’s reign back then. It is structured around a strong defensive shape and discipline and based around the simple, Maureenesque ‘philosophy’ of keeping a clean sheet and nicking a goal when the chances arrive. Hiddink won the Europa Cup One (now CL) for PSV with exactly that approach a few decades ago.

With Wanyama, who had an almost faultless performance and showed once again how useful he could be for us, and Schneiderlin, Koeman has the best midfield shield in the PL. The beauty about the Frenchman is that he can also play football, and he was duly missed by the Saints tonight. From an attacking point of view, the Saints did not perform well enough to hurt us, even though their Italian CF had more than a decent chance to score early on. The forced omission of Schneiderlin was a big advantage for us, which might have turned the game in our favour (and Cork’s injury helped a lot as well of course).

Our defence was also well organised: with BFG and Koz having a relatively easy, but very focussed and aggressive, game; and the FBs played very good throughout the match too. It is absolutely amazing how Chambers plays at such a consistently high level, and yet, he is still so young; and Nacho also really showed desire and high energy levels for the full 93 minutes.

Our DM-shield worked ok too. Flamini kept it simple – he completed 64 of his 69 passes – and did not get involved in our attacking play a lot. Ramsey had the free role and showed a lot of drive, but his lack of touch, his continuously misplaced passes and his over-eagerness to make a difference is holding him, and therefore the team, back.

Ramsey needs to link defence and attack up, so he has a pivotal role to play. Luckily, both Carzorla and especially Alexis helped him out a lot with coming deep to collect the ball and make things happen from there. But of course, this leaves gaps up-front. We can say the same about Welbeck, who was full of drive and desire, but ultimately not very effective – although this changed a bit when Giroud came on.

Bloggers on this site will know well how much I believe Giroud makes all the difference for our team. In the first 65 minutes our attacks were often chaotic and harmless, with lots of runners with energy, but very little cohesion and penetration. Giroud is our mobile anchor: the pivot in our attack around which we base our attacking initiatives. As soon as he came on the play centred around him: midfielders can play the ball into him and fellow attackers can take better positions and find themselves in more space. He also had no fear and found the weak spots in the Saints defence instantly. This, in my opinion, was vital for our attacks becoming more centred and deadly. It was evident that Giroud made such a difference once again as soon as he came on.

We finally cracked the nearly formidable defence of the Saints late on in the game. It was not a beautiful goal but well deserved in the end, even though we were helped a bit by the injury to the impressive Alderweireld, which meant Southampton had to continue with ten men as all subs had already been used. It was good for Ramsey to produce to cool-headed assist, and let us hope he will take this with him into the next game. It was good for Alexis to get a reward for running his socks off all night. This was not one of his best games by all means, but his work ethic and desire to win are phenomenal and it was sweet for him that he got us once again all the three points. At Barca he was one of many great players; at Arsenal he simply is the star at the moment; and boy does he like it, with already 14 goals in all competitions to his name.

And these are very sweet three points. They pull us up to just three points below the Saints now and keep us in touch with all fellow top teams, except the horrible Chavs.

Next up are Stoke: another heavy battle waits. Bring it on!

Written by: TotalArsenal.

27 thoughts on “Arsenal v Saints Match Review: Giroud Is Not Afraid!

  • Arsenal (4-5-1, 4-2-3-1)

    MotM: Fraser Forster (Southampton, making at least 7 saves during the match and almost unbeatable in goal until near the end)
    Arsenal’s candidates for MotM: Calum Chambers & Alexis Sánchez

  • I said a few weeks ago when we were really struggling that we should take every game One Goal At A Time (OGAAT), hahaha.. And that I would more that gladly take a bunch of 1-nil victories from now until the new year when most of our injured players return and/or we get reinforcement in the January Transfer Window. It appears that the gods of football have heard me and granted me my wish. 2 games in a row, 1-nil to the Arsenal. Long may that continue… 🙂

    I must say though, I am hugely impressed by our young keeper Martinez. He doesn’t look fazed at all and is showing tremendous confidence coming out to claim high balls in the air instead of half punching them to the opposition player at the edge of our box. He is also quick on his feet and his kicking is excellent. WS1 has got himself some competition to remain our number 1, I think. 3 clean sheets in a row by Martinez, wow!!!

  • Special mention to Giroud for changing the course of the game for us. He has been great since his return to action. My guess is that a combination of the “enforced rest” (injury) and having Welbeck to challenge him for the CF spot is making him play a whole lot better. A little competition for spots is always healthy for team in general.

    By the way, excellent report there, TA! I am really enjoying our newly found “defensive grit”. 007 will probably swear that it is because of who is not in between our sticks, haha. Either way, I hope it lasts.

  • Notable mentions:
    1. TA great review. The intro rings true for me, it wasn’t a thrill a minute with 51 shots at goal like the QPR game over the weekend, but that game lacked real quality, whereas ours was full of quality despite limited goal mouth action.
    2. Giroud. Him and Arteta are very central to executing Wenger’s system. Think he earned himself a start at the weekend in those 20 minutes. But I’d like that start to be alongside Alexis and Welbeck, not instaed of Welbeck. My favourite move was when Alexis dropped a bit deeper “into the hole” and played a ball straight into Giroud’s feet who flicked a through ball to Welbeck whose shot was well-saved by Forster. Really think all 3 can and should play and start together regularly (though it wasn’t completely effective YET v West Brom), Welbeck and Alexis have the energy, work rate and pace which allows them to still cover wings when needed.
    3. Mertescielny. Our new found collective defensive solidity is wonderful. Kos being back helps (particularly BFG), but its more than that, there is a clear effort to maintain a better defensive shape and it makes for less mini heart attacks so our family Dr. will probaly be sending Wenger an Xmas card…
    4. Martinez. Nice having a GK where it doesn’t feel like every shot on target or cross into the box is gonna lead to a goal. And yes that is a dig at Scz.
    5. All in all. OGAAT. Feels like we are about to hit top form.

  • Looking at post match stats 8-1 shots on target. 19 attempts overall. Twice as many corners I think. Giroud looked energized. 6 duels won in his short stint. Excellent. Maybe sharing time with welbz will do him good. A breather occasionally.
    In general, they looked fast and powerful, but we played with much more skill. And with any luck could have ended 2 or 3 to nil. We really do have alot of talented forwards . Ozil should be excited to play with Alexis,, walcott and ox the way hes been playing.
    Ox may even have to get some minutes in midfield to keep everyone happy.

    And most interesting, Arsene subbing well before 72 minutes. WOW !

  • One negative that really worries me, chambers played well, and has contributed more already going forward than sagna has in years with crosses …. and debuchy will be even better……. but the negative, chambers was still high up the pitch attacking after we took the lead.
    We must have more discipline than that. Must.

  • That’s it Gino, solid grinding with some some sparks of quality now and again. When we start without Debuchy, Jack, Ozil, Giroud, Theo, Gibbs and yes Arteta that is just what we got to do.

    Agreed on Martinez. Early days but very solid start. 🙂

  • D-Money, good to see you back and good points. Agreed on using all three of WAGs, Welbeck, Alexis and Giroud. I reckon Theo and Ox have something to say about that too, but that’s just what we need.

  • Johnnie, Ox to replace Rambo now and again might be the solution.

    Re Chambers ‘defending’…. Know what you mean. We probably still live with Attack is best defence attitude. And we were eleven against ten…

  • Great review TA, I thought we had lost you with no further comments in the whole of yesterday?

    Yes, last night’s match was all about the result, as those who commented on the Man U match. Forgot instantly how well we played, just moaned at the result. So let”s not dwell on the hows and whys’, eh?

    I guess it was always going to be a hard fought game, Saints possessing one of the best defence record in the league at the moment, and us trying to get our act together in that department? However, no matter where you look at the outfield duels, I think we came out on top. Only the keepers were even, at least until the 88th minute. Mind, because we scored, nobody has mentioned the deliberate handball in the penalty area. Not only a penalty, but a sending off? Even if Forster could have saved the pen (had it been given), they would have been down to 9 and still another 5 minutes to play??

    I take issue with your ‘near faultless’ view of Wanayama. Two rash tackles within a few minutes of each other, the second, a kick in the calf on Alexis as he broke away down the wing – normally a booking by every referee this season? – a deliberate handball on the halfway line should have been a second yellow,and thus a red? As indeed was the one he did get a yellow for, yet another tackle from behind as we were mounting an attack. In an Arsenal shirt he would have been off? We can do better.

    That is not to say our tackling was all clean and praiseworthy. Cork’s ankle twist was partly as a result of the tackle from behind. Was it Long who got trodden on by Cazorla? Neither of those produced a card either. Only Adlerthingy looked like a hammy going while stretching too far.
    It does look like over the last couple of weeks there has been a deliberate policy to let the ‘rough stuff’ happen if the offended side have an advantage, but always book the ‘professional foul’, and that went by the board last night too?

    I do think Alexis is suffering from making his play from deep, good as he is when doing so. He is probably guilty as Ox for trying too much on occasions. The latter was a strange sub to make if you disregard the fact he was in doubt about playing before the game. But taking that into account, it seemed the only option, as Welbeck is the striker. Taking off Ramsey could have risked our defensive shape, for all his other flaws. Mind Poldi, for the second time when coming on late, looks a driven guy. He will be dangerous should he ever get a start?

    Martinez amuses me. He looks small for a goalkeeper … until he stand by Santi, Alexis, or the OX. Then he looks massive 😀
    Very decisive, and getting better with each game. Not only has WS got a challenge, Osina is going to have to get past him too?

    OGAAT – Another toughy coming up, and with the CL match to follow, there is no resting these players. Fingers crossed, everyone came through without injury?

    Keep the faith …

  • Cheers Gerry 🙂

    Re Wanyama, that’s what I expect of a DM: play on the edge, at least till the first yellow is given, have presence and rough things up. He was near faultless and would be a lot better than our current options (he outshone Flam in all departments).

    I don’t understand your stance re Alexis at all. He adds another dimension and gear which is sooo important. He is also getting a bit knackered, but will Wenger rest him? Fat chance!

  • Wanyama was clearly tasked to put fear into Santi and Alexis and at times he was deliberately rash. Agreed the ref should have punished him for the foul on Alexis, but that is the risk he took. Under Wenger he would need to play more disciplined, and I am sure he would. But Koeman has a dark side to him, well hidden behind his charming smile…

  • Re Alexis, how many times does he win back the ball for us? Probably more than all the others put together. Absolutely vital that he comes deep to help out and drives us forward, even if it means him loosing the ball again some times.

  • TA – I accept what you are saying regards what DM’s do. But I think he would not get very far doing it in an Arsenal shirt?

    I said, regarding Alexis, he very good when he comes deep. The point I was making is the same one I was making about Ox, and Wilshere for that matter, is the further they travel with the ball the fewer the options they have to pass, because defences close in around them?
    If Alexis starts from the edge of the box, or just inside it, not only is the less chance of being fouled, but also the less time for defences to organise around him, and so the pass or a shot is likely to bring greater success? I think this will be illustrated better when Ozil returns, as he will do the deep passes for him , Ox, Walcott and Welbeck to latch on to where they can be most dangerous?

    And yes, he is getting knackered for the above reason, but also the unified defensive tactic we are applying … at least until we get a DM ‘Presence!’. We can do better than Wany, imo.

  • TA et al,

    Agreed on match report. I think Sanchez will always want to be involved.

    Gerry, I think the more defences close, especially with more than 1 player, the more, not less, chances one has to pass. That is what opens spaces often, not closes them. Presuming others are running off the ball as well.

    IMO, and to be controversial, two things:

    a. Last year Flam and Flam-teta were solid. It seems this year they are more found out, and more a small step behind. Time running out or gone there (sadness). Not entirely, but we need a stronger singular DM. I’d go for Schneiderlin type or even Calum Chambers groomed for it? Any choice of others, but they are rare, so… the neverending story becomes or remains the same there

    b. I think the lack of offense here in the last games shows more that we miss Ozil (and/or JW) but we miss a true #10. I think WAGS + Ozil (not a normal press combo really! 🙂 ) would be dynamite. Speed and interchangeability, with hold up play, and the snake eyed passer and user of space… We might finally see all the parts bough this year on the pitch at once… DMed by Chambers to be double or triply controversial???

    Them’s my thoughts.

    Oh, and credit to Soton who have near or the top defensive record. They don’t give up much and didn’t. But the pressure was almost all ours, so good game and to be expected…

    cheers — jgc

  • Sweet three points against a very good team. We looked fine throughout the game and were tactically disciplined. The way we had at least 4 players back after we took the lead showed that we are finally doing things the right way. I’m still unconvinced about Ramseys performance albeit the assist.

    Ollie’s intro to the game was huge, now nobody can doubt what he brings to the team, right Total?

    And Wanyama showed that he could be our Matic. He could be the one that finally solves our midfield problem.

  • Shrillex,
    I agree with all you said , the only thing that was at fault last night was we should have been more clinical. That being said there keeper was awesome. He really was MOTM .
    Also a little mention for Mertinez in goal for us, i think he has done really really well. I was a bit worried he might be our weak link but that has gone, in fact he seems to be very solid.

  • yep, Wanyama showed Arsenal and AW and all the supporters, what we are missing – what a solid DM , an absolute beast – bullied and intelligently fouled our players .

    however, we were in for Morgan.S and hopefully we will get him this January

    a lovely post @ Skipper not much to disagree with but I think we have forgotten 2 key men for yesterday’s victory.

    1: Sczny for being injured

    3: Scznyfor being Injured


    ok, on a more serious note, Lukas Podolski came on like a fighter and you could see that he was a man possessed – I never saw him play this direct or aggressively before, maybe now he can get a few games under a belt and prove a few people wrong ?

    I would look to rest Welbeck and start Poldi ahead of him along side Giroud .

  • I owe Giroud an Apology – I was being a tad biased for my appreciation of our local lad Danny Welbeck – Giroud is still king and Welbeck will learn a lot with him at Arsenal .

    let’s put it this way .

    Giroud joined Arsenal under the impression that he would play with RVP – he never got the traitor but Welbeck will do just fine for now , ha

    fortunately, the biggest winner yesterday was our injury count – no more injuries – yayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy (or so we all hope until tomorrow’s press conference ?

  • Geoff @13:52 I can see I should have worded my remarks on running from deep a little differently? How about the longer they run with the ball the less likely they are to pass … because they never know when to stop? So they get stopped.

    On the DM thing. I agree, should we get a decent one, and MS would do nicely, it should open up our play much more. I just don’t think the Wanyman is very consistent.
    I would be worried in to pushing Chambers into that role too soon to. I will wait and see what Hayden can do first.

    Agreed on Ozil.

  • JB – Congrats on topping the BK FF league. The top four must have very similar teams, all scoring around 80 points?

  • just as Gino predicted, it was inevitable ahahahahahhahaha @ Skipper

    3 clean sheets, you can’t give me a better reason than what I have given ; )


    yep, a lot of people have tried copying my teams it seems, and I don’t mean just here but at my work place as well – and I am still not top there, they spend all the time in the world looking at their teams and sorting them out .

    one who happens to be leading at work is leading at the telegraph and the mail as well or is in the top 3 .

    I am really gunner go for it this year as it’s plenty of banter and fun at work 🙂 you are not doing that bad either and you are right, it’s tight at the top !

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