New year but same old inconsistent Arsenal with a horrendous defensive display and a joke of a goalkeeping error. Southampton punished two errors by Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny to stay fourth in the Premier League. Szczesny raced from his goal in the first half to allow Sadio Mane to curl into an empty net from a narrow angle. Saints’ keeper Fraser Forster superbly saved from Alexis Sanchez before Szczesny kicked a loose ball while on the floor to Dusan Tadic, who poked in. Southampton could have scored more, with Graziano Pelle’s shot cleared off the line, as Arsenal drop to sixth.
Without the suspended Morgan Schneiderlin – a reported target for many teams in January – Koeman’s side were solid all over the pitch, none more so than goalkeeper Forster, who saved brilliantly from Santi Cazorla and Sanchez either side of Mane’s opener. By contrast, Szczesny made errors which proved the difference between the teams. First, the Poland keeper raced from his goal to confront Mane, but the Senegal striker – soon heading for the African Cup of Nations – curled in his third goal in as many games with a measured finish from the byline. The Arsenal keeper then superbly denied James Ward-Prowse from 12 yards before the break, but panicked when grounded in his six-yard box before the hour mark and kicked a loose ball straight to Tadic, who scored his second Premier League goal. The Arsenal keeper instantly sipped his sports bottle with a bemused look on his face. It was the seventh goal his side have conceded from an error this season – only Everton, with 11, have more.
The Gunners nearly added to that tally when Szczesny was sold short by a backpass and Mathieu Debuchy was left to clear Pelle’s prod off the line. The home side were fortunate to end with 10 men when Florin Gardos – the last man – felled Alexis Sanchez with a quarter of the game remaining but the referee only handed out a yellow card. Theo Walcott was introduced in the 60th minute for Chambers but failed to even touch the ball for almost 20 minutes. Pathetic showing by the Gunners and deservedly losers. Now down to 6th on 33 points.