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Arsenal 2 v 0 Southampton
Barclays Premier League
Sunday, 24th February 2019 Kick-off 14:05
Saints At Arsenal The Verdict
Monday, 25th Feb 2019 10:29

Saints put in a fighting display marred by individual errors that gifted the Gunner two goals in the first 16 minutes, but this season will not be defined by this defeat, but what we do in the final 11 games.

As I predicted in the preview Angus Gunn came back in to the side, but the talk pre match was more about who didn't come back in with Yoshida again consigned to the bench.

Saints made a bright start at The Emirates, they could have easily have gone in front when Nathan Redmond was put through and cut back to force a fine save from Leno, but moments later Saints were behind with slack defending again the cause.

It was a carbon copy situation 10 minutes later when Matt Targett drew a good save from the Arsenal keeper and moments later the Gunners scored after Jack Stephens tried to be too clever and put his keeper in trouble with a poor back pass.

Some Saints supporters are in meltdown at this defeat, but a look at Arsenal's home record going into this fixture showed 10 wins, to draws and only a single defeat, only the top two have better, this season will not be defined by a defeat at the Emirates but what we do next.

We all know what the problem is, I have been saying it for over two years now and until recently have been accused of having something against both Jack Stephens and Yoshida, that is not the case, the only thing I have against either is their tendency to concede goals with sloppy defending and this was the case for Stephens yesterday and it was no surprise he was replaced at the break.

This brought me no pleasure, I would rather have seen him put in a solid performance that won us a point or even three.

This was a poor result for the way we conceded the two goals, but the plus point was that although at times we were being overwhelmed by an Arsenal side who came at us hard and fast on the break, we dug in defended doggedly till the final whistle and made sure it was a defeat not a rout.

We were in the game right until the last few minutes, we had our chances, despite Arsenal's dominance with 10 shots we only had 2 less than them and we equalled their number on target of 4, the feeling was that if we could sneak a goal we might get back in it, but that goal never came and hopes faded in the final minutes of the game.

Perhaps we were too attack minded, as mentioned both goals came straight after we had poured forward and forced their keeper into a decent save, in the preview I stated that this game might suit us in that we could sit deep and go on the break, Arsenal played us at our own game, they drew us on and then attacked in numbers.

There are many things being said on social media about this defeat, but we have to look at this came in context and we got what all but 3 teams have done at The Emirates and that is get beaten, the Gunners haven't been beaten there in the League since the opening day of the season when Manchester City won 2-0, with only Liverpool and Wolves making it a nervy November with a draw for each.

We have to look at reality now and that is that we are in a relegation battle, but it is not games like this that count, the game against Fulham is vital we need all hands on deck for that one and a full house getting behind the team, the Arsenal game is gone, we can't change it, Gao didn't play them onside, Krueger didn't give a dodgy back pass, it is now all about concentrating on the games we can win.

The Saints supporters kept behind their team to the final whistle on Sunday, they could see that whatever the issues they were trying, they never gave up even though they were outclassed, this could have been a rout, but wasn't because we kept going and were still throwing ourselves into challenges to the final whistle, unlike games at Liverpool Man City etc.

That is what we have to take from this game, we have gambled in getting rid of Hoedt and not signing a central defender, but we are still good enough to get out of it, a couple of defeats are not disaster.

Photo: Action Images

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Wembley76 added 11:00 - Feb 25
Generally, the Saints' away fans/support is top notch and far outstrips the "mausoleum mentality" at St. Mary's. The shameful keyboard warriors are best just ignored!
That said, I don't expect Stephens to make the first XI on Wednesday.

brady100 added 11:03 - Feb 25
For the first time (even last season) I think we are going to go down. We are so poor at the back and have no striking options... how we could do with Gabbiadini now. The squad lacks any game changers, goal scorers and quality. Look at our starting line up and bench from Sunday, where is the premier league quality? PEH, NR and RB..who was on the bench.

HythePeer added 11:18 - Feb 25
RH lost this game. Lots of defenders and no strikers; a set up to defend in front of your own goal, random events occur in front of your goal and eventually the opposing side gets a gift. You need to defend in front of their goal so random events give you gifts. He does this every game and he is never going win much like that. He keeps amending the situation during the game but often it is too late.

wessexman added 11:19 - Feb 25
Very difficult to make a case for staying up. The individual errors are not going to be cut out by some miracle now. We probably all expected to lose but...we could have been 5 down by half time. The most baffling thing was the Tenerefe trip and RH's chance to really get to grips with the team and the problems. Hmmmm....quite. I was surprised to see Stephens start against Cardiff but yesterday's inclusion was bewildering....and it cost us..AGAIN! Obafemi being injured and Ings now a few more weeks away has summed things up at St Mary's. WHAT is the thinking behind it all?

halftimeorange added 11:35 - Feb 25
The Arsenal result would have been unsurprising to most of us. It's becoming nigh on a fluke for any team outside the top ten to beat the top six such is the difference in available talent. Saint Nick is quite right, it comes down to the remaining games against Fulham, Brighton, Newcastle, Bournemouth and Huddersfield. There are 15 points we might be able to secure, although that would be unlikely. Sadly, it seems that Ralph is showing signs of desperation in his selections but, we can't blame him for what goes on once the players are on the pitch. Jack Stephens might have some talent but, it seems it doesn't extend to his thought processes. Our weaknesses are in pockets all over the pitch. Redmond, Hobjberg and Romeu might all shine in a better all-round team, but they are having to work too hard individually to get us positive results. The mini revival when Ralph came on board appears to have stumbled to a halt. Only a good win will reignite that drive. Will we beat Fulham? I really don't think that's a given.

SanMarco added 12:19 - Feb 25
"shameful keyboard warriors" eh Wembley76? I do have to say that optimism is a wonderful thing, as is loyal support, but we ARE in a mess and we shouldn't be. This is the number one fan-site for commenting on the Saints and I would say it would be 'shameful' for us not to very concerned. I have a feeling that we might just stay up but it is going to be close and we have to beat Fulham.

I feel sorry for Jack Stephens - it is not his fault he is not good enough at this level. I expect Yoshi to return on Weds and we must play 4 at the back and 2 strikers (if we have any left). This is a crisis totally of our own making and at least we have a manager who may just get us out of it - this time last year it was still MP...

bstokesaint added 12:20 - Feb 25
I’m fed up with hearing excuses of “individual errors” and “it was no surprise against a better team”. Other teams in the bottom half take points off the top teams. This defeatist attitude
is the reason why we don’t deserve our place in this division. There was a time not so long ago when we fancied our chances against anyone. The position we find ourselves in now is a result of a sustained period of bad recruitment and not being pro-active to address issues.

saintjf added 12:33 - Feb 25
Yes San Marco we are in serious trouble and to pretend otherwise is bonkers. Just how serious will be better known after the Fulham game.

richsaints added 12:38 - Feb 25
To be fair we were very fortunate to survive last season and we have learnt and changed nothing this term except the coach. Think it was a mistake to rely on the same squad to do better this time it is clear they are not up to it and will be lucky to survive again.Fulham is as big a six pointer there is anything less than three points and we can look forward to the drop with the fixtures following and remains to be seen but the Cardiff game may have been first nail in the coffin.

saintmark1976 added 12:40 - Feb 25
Nick - "Perhaps we were too attack minded",that would be starting without one single recognised forward would it?

In regard to Stephens, yes he got caught on the ball in the lead up to the first goal doing what I would suggest the manager had told him i e "play it don't hoof it".Is that his fault or could it be that there is nobody in our midfield who could play it out for him? Reference the second goal Gunn had every opportunity to clear the ball to safety but for reasons best known to himself gifted it to an Arsenal player.Once again Stephen's fault or poor goalkeeping?

Aside of the table which never lies,football is all about opinions. On this occasion Redmond was clean through against their keeper and still manages not to score. Armstrong had a good opportunity as did J W P, once again booth failed to score, was that Jack
Stephens fault also? Goals win games and that is where our problem is,and has been for months with an audit trail which leads all the way back to lack of proper investment by the owners and poor decision making by their employees.


saintmark1976 added 12:46 - Feb 25
Sorry, booth wasn't playing. I meant both.

wibbersda added 13:09 - Feb 25
Cardiff doing the double over us is all you need to know why we are going down.

simmo400 added 13:17 - Feb 25
15 points by the end of season is impossible. We cant core, we cant defend, the Fulham game will not define the season. We are in a dogfight with Cardiff. We need to match them game by game at least and hopefully do enough to pip them.

saintlee added 13:28 - Feb 25
Why do we not play Bertrand as a sweeper. Stephens just isnt up to it at this level - poor player and anyone who thinks otherwise doesnt know football. Bertrand reads the game very well, has pace and experience of playing there before. Ive knocked Targett a bit this season but hes actually done ok. We miss Lemina in tge middle of the park and obviously Ings but I personally think we will be fine this season but need a massive overhaul in the summer. Chins up guys - everything is goona be ok 😁😁😁

darthvader added 13:39 - Feb 25
Fed up with losing

Colburn added 13:44 - Feb 25
I also think the manager has asked our defenders not to lump it and try to keep possession. This means the midfield and wide players need to make themselves available for a pass and if necessary move! So it’s not always the fault of the man in possession, it’s a collective responsibility. We could have been one nil up after Jack Stephens superb pass put Redmond through. Maybe that’s why he doesn’t lump it forward.. because with effective movement, he can see and play a pass from the back. I agree he has to take some responsibility but so do the other 10 on the pitch. It’s a game of fine margins and our lack of goals illuminates the mistakes that much more. We might have won the game one nil with a Stephens assist but those are the margins. We should take some positivity from our second half performance, I don’t think it helped us first half to have had a 2 week break again. Looks like we could have been better served keeping Gabbiadini but hindsight is a wonderful thing. There’s a long way to go, we’ve had a blip after a good run. Same shots on target as Arsenal yesterday so I would suggest our lack of conversion is as damaging as the alleged individual mistakes at the back. We only have to get more points than Cardiff, watch out for Brighton too if they lose at Leicester on weds. Worst part of yesterday was Obafemi again..

SaintPaulVW added 14:10 - Feb 25
I really don't think we would have been any better had it been Hoedt rather than Stephens. All our central defenders seem lacking atm.

I agree with some of the above comments to me our big problem is still in attack. To even threaten a 1-0 and get teams to think about hanging back you need a convincing threat up front. We just don't have it at the moment and haven't had it for the last 2 years.

I agree that this game was a write-off for me this season. To me, our end of season run in is far more important in terms of staying up.

However if we do stay up and our attack and defence isn't strengthened over the summer with all these players that supposedly just weren't available in January, we could easily be next season's Huddersfield. Still nervous but optimistic we can escape again one more time.

SaintBrock added 14:33 - Feb 25
Of course we are going down, a win on Wednesday will only prolong the agony for our fans.

On the basis of Saturday's horror show we may as well save the money and not send a team up to Old Trafford at the weekend and a good spanking by Spurs the following week may well see a nigh impossible to bridge gap to Cardiff and Brighton.

It is so sad to have witnessed our demise blow-by-blow, cut-by-cut after all the marvellous promise of the Liebherr M era. I fear we may never see such days again in a very long time, long after the time of many of us on here.

SaintBrock added 14:40 - Feb 25
This was the poorest Saints team to very take to the field in years whether through enforced absence through injury or just simple lousy team selection. Surely a team made up of all that talent playing on loan elsewhere would have fared no worse than the bunch of losers on the pitch at the Emirates.

The fans of other teams must be so embarrassed for us for what we have become

underweststand added 14:59 - Feb 25
Whatever the "positives" to take from this game, they fade into insignificance compared to our lack of goalscoring power, and the inability to get the ball into the box - let alone the back of the net.
We can lament the loss of Gabbiadini , but TBF..I can see him scoring more for Sampdoria in the slower-paced Italian game, and despite his meagre goal tally for us, he really didn't fit in to the various formation we had after Puel left.
My biggest regret is "whoever it was' " decision to let JayRod go when we did, in preference to Long or Austin. We no longer have any alternatives left, and if we must play Austin we must create a formula to give him aerial chances in the box, as he has no pace to speak of.

YES... we may see more of Gallagher (who still never quite looks the part) as there are very few alternatives in the U23s to consider. Assuming we do survive, it will be upto RH to rehabilitate Boufal or Carrillo in the summer, because I can't see us investing big bucks on a new striker whilst we have the present "motley crew" still on board.

Keesie66 added 15:25 - Feb 25
Honestly.... why does everybody on here think we will win on Wednesday v Fulham... I think Mitrovic will bulley our defenders, Schurle, Sessegnon & Babbel will outclass the midfield....
We've very little left in reserve... just not strong enough...

Apologies for the negativity but if you can not defend and can not score ... whats left?

Keesie66 added 15:28 - Feb 25
Honestly.... why does everybody on here think we will win on Wednesday v Fulham... I think Mitrovic will bulley our defenders, Schurle, Sessegnon & Babbel will outclass the midfield....
We've very little left in reserve... just not strong enough...

Apologies for the negativity but if you can not defend and can not score ... whats left?

Keesie66 added 15:29 - Feb 25
Sorry I responded too early..... Ralph said it is all going to be different on Wednesday night..... thank God!!!

brady100 added 15:35 - Feb 25
We have won 2 home games in 14 months.

We will need to win at least 3 of our next 6.

I think that shows the task we are facing us now.


BoondockSaint added 15:52 - Feb 25
I thought Tadic and Gabbiadini were let go because our "style of play was not suited to them" (or the rest of the team are plodders) surely that means no passing from the back, clog the midfield and hoof it clear whenever possible, and hope for a bit of luck in the opposition's box. (l.e. Survival Football copyright: Big Sam), and yet we still see the opposition pouncing on our mistakes when trying to pass from the back or the goalkeeper throwing the ball rather than hoofing it.

The worrying thing is, as you look at the bottom half of the table, can we truly say we can beat any of them?

P.S. What's the ranking of a "shameless keyboard warrior?" I think stronger than a Ranger, but not as powerful as a Beserker?

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