Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta dedicated his side’s Premier League win over Southampton to absent captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who missed the game for personal reasons. The Gunners made light of their star striker’s absence as they continued their excellent run of league form by coming from behind to beat the Saints in an eventful game. After Alexandre Lacazette missed a glorious chance to give the Gunners a first-minute lead, Stuart Armstrong put Southampton ahead from a wonderful delivery by captain James Ward-Prowse.
But the lead lasted just five minutes, as Nicolas Pepe equalised with a neat finish, before both sides created clear chances. Former Saints defender Cedric Soares volleyed narrowly wide at one end while Bernd Leno produced a flying save to keep out a header by Che Adams at the other. England winger Bukayo Saka put the Gunners ahead after going past keeper Alex McCarthy, who had come rushing out of his penalty area, before the 19-year-old picked out Lacazette to seal the points, the Frenchman appearing to send a message of support to Aubameyang in the process. When they were held 1-1 by Southampton at Emirates Stadium on 16 December, Arteta’s side were 15th in the table and trailed the Saints by 10 points.
This latest impressive win lifted them above Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side and up into eighth spot, five points off a top-four position. Not that Arteta is looking. Arteta’s team are finally producing results, with a fifth win in six league games easing the pain of Saturday’s FA Cup exit, while building further momentum before Saturday’s intriguing home game with high-flying Manchester United. Saka once again showed why he is being touted for a big future with an energetic performance, which he capped with a fine finish, while Granit Xhaka and Lacazette also created goals.