Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Plenty To Ponder After Arsenal Thrashing

Four games into their first season back in the Premier League for seven years, Southampton remain pointless after their 6-1 thrashing at Arsenal on Saturday. It was a harsh lesson for the Saints, as the Gunners out-shone the newly-promoted side on a sunny afternoon at the Emirates Stadium. 

Arsenal all but secured their victory in the first half, after a disastrous defensive display from Southampton. It all began when Jos Hooiveld bundled the ball into his own net after 11 minutes, after failing to clear his lines. On the half hour mark, summer signing Lukas Podolski curled in a beautiful free-kick from 25 yards before Gervinho smashed in Arsenal's third four minutes later. It was to get a lot worse for the visitors when Nathaniel Clyne's deflection from Kieron Gibbs' cross looped over Kelvin Davis to make it 4-0 to the Gunners. Danny Fox grabbed a consolation goal before half-time for the Saints but it left manager Nigel Adkins with much to ponder during the interval. 

The outstretching Kelvin Davis is beaten by
Lukas Podolski's free-kick.

In the second half, Southampton played their usual passing game and created a couple of chances through Rickie Lambert and substitute Gastón Ramírez. However, it was the hosts who increased their lead on 77 minutes where Gervinho followed in the rebound from Aaron Ramsey's effort which came back off the post. Southampton's misery finally came to an end nine minutes from time when former Saint, Theo Walcott, curled home from inside the box with his left foot and showed respect to his old club by not celebrating. It was truly a forgettable afternoon for the Saints, for all the wrong reasons. Can they aim to put things right when they host Aston Villa this Saturday?  

Theo Walcott showing respect to his former club
after his goal.
There are plenty of things for Southampton to consider for Saturday's match, especially in terms of their defensive frailties which was easy to see from the Arsenal game. It didn't help when Jos Hooiveld limped off with a calf injury midway through the first half but that was the least of Southampton's worries. His replacement, Maya Yoshida, had a satisfactory debut, despite his error for Gervinho's first goal. The defence has been a familiar weakness for the Saints and the lack of depth in that area is beginning to show. Every Saints fan knows how hard Nigel Adkins and Nicola Cortese work behind the scenes in terms of transfers but I'm sure many will agree that it was disappointing that the club didn't bring in another centre-back and left-back. After seeing Alexander Büttner make his debut for Manchester United on Saturday, it really does rub salt into the wounds of what could have been another decent signing for Southampton. I think that dwelling on what could have been won't help although Nigel Adkins does need to robustly strengthen the defence when the January transfer window arrives.  

Danny Fox scores Southampton's only goal
at the Emirates.
Despite scoring on Saturday, I'm not convinced about Danny Fox's defensive capabilities from my own viewpoint. He is deadly at set-pieces but many fans will agree that his defending needs to improve, as personal mistakes will be punished in an instant in the Premier League. In my opinion, Fox doesn't track his man when the opposing team come on the attack where his duties are left to one of the centre-halves. José Fonte is another defender who has also been getting the Saints fans thinking whether he is the right man to partner Jos Hooiveld in the heart of the defence. His mistake led to Wigan's second goal in the 2-0 defeat at St. Mary's over three weeks ago and his positioning has also been questionable. There are many differences between the Championship and the Premier League,  the pace and skill involved for starters but Southampton will be well-placed to drastically address this during the week to get things right before the weekend. 

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