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Dublin: 18°C Sunday 13 June 2021


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Southampton 1-1 Arsenal (FT)

Hello, and welcome to our third New Year’s Day liveblog. Here’s the team news for this evening’s game:

Southampton: Boruc, Cork, Yoshida, Fonte, Shaw, Puncheon, Steven Davis, Schneiderlin, Ramirez, Lambert, Do Prado. Subs: Kelvin Davis, Hooiveld, Rodriguez, Ward-Prowse, Richardson, Mayuka, De Ridder.

Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Arteta, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Cazorla, Podolski, Walcott. Subs: Martinez, Mertesacker, Rosicky, Giroud, Ramsey, Coquelin, Gervinho.

In case you missed it earlier, you can check out what happened in the early kick-off here and the 3pm kick-offs here.

You’ve probably guessed from the starting line-up that Theo Walcott is being played as the central striker again for Arsenal.

The England international has impressed when playing in the role over the past few games.

We’re underway…

Luke Shaw gets a good tackle in on Oxlade-Chamberlain early on.

It’ll be interesting to see how the 17-year-old full-back gets on today, given that he’s been linked with a move to Arsenal of late.

Artur Boruc has been handed a rare start today, but the goalkeeper flaps at a routine cross early on not once, but twice in two successive incidents

Expect Kelvin Davies to get the nod sooner than expected, if the Polish goalkeeper continues to look “a bundle of nerves,” as Sky commentator Alan Smith describes him.

Arsenal have had the majority of possession and territory so far, though Southampton also look a threat on the counter-attack.

The game has a nice flow to it, and it’s been entertaining to watch as a result.

While the game may be attractive to watch for the purists, there’s been a lack of goalscoring opportunities so far.

Southampton certainly aren’t defending like a team in the bottom three.

Jack Wilshere is currently down receiving treatment for an injury in, erm, his lower regions.

He’s going off temporarily, but it doesn’t seem too serious and he looks set to continue.

Southampton are now starting to get the upper-hand possession-wise, without really threatening their opponents’ goal.

They’ve had 57% of the ball in the last 10 minutes.

The Sky commentators have clearly cursed this game.

Ever since they said “it looks like there are goals in this,” there’s been barely a sniff of a chance for either side.

(Southampton’s Rickie Lambert (above) is denied by Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny as he attacks the Arsenal goal – Chris Ison/PA Wire/Press Association Images)


Southampton 1-0 Arsenal: Sagna scuffs his clearance following a goalmouth scramble and the ball falls to Ramirez, who strikes it home masterfully first-time from the edge of the box (34 mins).

It’s been a highly competent display by the Saints, and so that goal was well deserved.

Arsenal have looked suspect defensively at times this season and they’ve conceded another cheap goal today.

Bacary Sagna, in particular, has looked below-par.


Arsenal 1-1 Southampton: Walcott’s free-kick looks underhit, but Do Prado stretches for the ball unnecessarily and deflects it into his own net (40 mins).

That’s another poor goal to concede and the Saints will be bitterly disappointed, given how hard they work to get themselves ahead in this game.


So half-time, and it’s been an interesting game to watch.

Despite being well below them in the table, the Saints have matched Arsenal in most departments and even bettered them in terms of possession for sections of that first half.

Their impressive performance is partially reflected by the scoreline, though they could have been even better off had they not conceded a sloppy goal on the brink of half-time.

Arsenal, similarly, were lacklustre in defence for their opponents’ goal, and will need to up their intensity after the break, or risk dropping points ultimately.

An additional intriguing facet of this game is the willingness of both sides to play attractive, attacking football – a rare enough situation in modern-day English football.

We’re back underway…

Here’s a look at that Do Prado own goal, replete with a suitably rubbish soundtrack.

Southampton appear to playing particularly close attention to Arsenal’s playmaker, Santi Cazorla, crowding around him whenever he gets the ball.

It’s a wise policy, given how influential the Spaniard has been this season.

Do Prado almost makes up for his first-half own goal.

The attacker forces Szczesny to parry the ball away at his near post, using all his agility in the process.

Substitution: Giroud has replaced Podolski for Aresenal, with the ineffectual Theo Walcott moving to the wing in order to accommodate his arrival (58 mins).

Southampton continue to press Arsenal and have had one or two half-chances in the last few minutes, with Puncheon shooting narrowly wide from just inside the box.

Arsenal look like they’re having one of their off days at the moment.

Walcott finds himself in a good position just outside the box, but shoots when he would have been better off crossing.

Failing to win here could see Chelsea extending the gap between them considerably, as they take on QPR tomorrow. In other words, the Gunners badly need a win here.

Aaron Ramsey has replaced Santi Cazorla, who’s had one of his rare quiet days.

Arsenal haven’t really looked like scoring in a while now.

What are the odds Arsene Wenger will point out how tired they are in the post-match interview?

And Southampton have replaced their goalscorer Ramirez with local lad, James Ward-Prowse.

The play’s been a bit disjointed in the last few minutes, owing partially to all these substitutions.

And now Southampton’s other goalscorer (albeit in their own net), Do Prado, has been replaced by Steve De Ridder.

Meanwhile, the recently introduced Gervinho finds the side netting with a snapshot.

Glorious chance for Puncheon, who finds himself free in the box.

However, his finish is disappointing, shooting straight at the goalkeeper.

The ineptitude of this Arsenal performance is highlighted by the fact that they’ve only had four shots on goal.

Arteta finds Gibbs deep in the Southampton box, but his cross is well cleared by a Saints defender.

Three minutes of added time to be played…

Impressively, Southampton are still getting five or six players forward when attacking.

Jack Cork has been named Man of the Match.


So Arsenal’s winning run comes to an end, and deservedly so.

The Gunners looked off the pace for the most part, and the result could have been even worse for them had the Saints been a bit more clinical with their finishing.

Southampton can take pride in their performance, attacking at will when given the chance and rarely seeming in awe of their opponents, as some teams do when taking on Arsenal.

In addition, it’ll be interesting to see if Wenger persists with the Walcott-as-central-striker experiment in the next game, given its relative failure this evening.

(Japanese Southampton fans show their support for Maya Yoshida, in the stands – Chris Ison/PA Wire/Press Association Images)

Right, that’s all from me.

Thanks for your company as always, and have a happy New Year!

About the author:

Paul Fennessy