Arsenal missed the chance to go top of the Premier League as they were thrashed by Southampton at St Mary’s. Saints full-back Cuco Martina marked his first league start with a stunning goal, curling in from 30 yards out. Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott missed free headers, before Shane Long finished from close range and Jose Fonte headed in the third. Striker Long struck the post with three minutes remaining, but managed to add a fourth through the legs of Petr Cech. It could have been even worse for the visitors. Virgil van Dijk had a header ruled out for offside, while Dusan Tadic’s dipping strike was pushed away by Cech.
Arsenal had lost just one of their previous 11 league games and recorded an impressive victory over Manchester City on Monday but Arsene Wenger’s side could not back that performance up with victory on the south coast. Having seen leaders Leicester beaten by Liverpool earlier in the day, the Gunners would have gone top with a win but were resoundingly beaten by a rampant Southampton side. Playmaker Mesut Ozil – who has received plenty of plaudits for his impressive performances this season – was kept quiet by the Southampton midfield, while former Saint Walcott posed little threat, attempting only 20 passes before being substituted.
The pressure was starting to grow on Southampton boss Ronald Koeman after five winless games left them just four points above the relegation zone. But they were marshalled brilliantly in the middle of the park by the superb Victor Wanyama, who made a match-high six tackles and 10 interceptions, often bullying the opposition players. The opening goal was stunning. There seemed to be no danger when defender Per Mertesacker headed the ball away, and Martina steadied himself before unleashing an outside-of-the-foot drive which started wide of the post before swerving into the net. There was a hint of controversy in it though, as Long and Laurent Koscielny came together in the build-up, leaving the Frenchman on the ground, allowing Long to stride forward unchallenged and stroke in from Sadio Mane’s pass. Defender Fonte added a bullet header and Long grabbed his second to complete a comprehensive victory for Southampton who managed their first clean sheet in six games.
Luckily Arsenal remain in 2nd place on 26 points, 2 behind Leicester City but just a point above Manchester City.