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June 2021

Southampton v Arsenal – the tactical review


Here’s our 2-2 draw with Southampton at St. Mary’s stadium.


It’s 20 minutes in and we’ve had precisely zero attacks in the opposition half. Zero. The closest we came was when Monreal tried to dribble out of defense and was fouled. There was a cross from Bac which was cleared. But that’s it. On a positive note, Ozil’s pressing a lot from the front which I like to see, and he’s much much more involved early in the game.

The reason we’re not playing is because both Arteta and Flamini are being closed down very very fast. 2 times they have tried to start an attack off – just 2 and both have been risky 40 yard balls that have given possession back. That’s a result of not a single 5 yard pass being available, due to Southampton’s insanely high pressing game. It’s a pleasure to watch their game frankly – it’s how I’d want us to play all the time. Gnabry and Cazorla have hardly touched the ball so far, all they’ve done is run back and defend.

Goal Southampton 1-0. It’s been coming. They’re playing through Shaw all the time, which is a little strange considering he’s at LB. Much like Baines at Everton I’d guess. Dead ball played short to Shaw again. Sagna’s in the box for some reason leaving Gnabry to mark Shaw. He’s there but hardly done anything and Shaw has a free cross. Its debatable whether it’s a foul or not on Monreal. I mean, it is for me – but it’s so rampant in the EPL – that kind of tackle/jump/challenge that it’s almost impossible to be consistent. It’s like the elbows in the air while jumping rule – why that is allowed I will never know. Oh well. I like what the officials have done with 2 foot challenges – they look to have been reasonably consistent on that front – hopefully these things too are looked at.

Playing out a little bit more now. Arteta’s been really poor so far, every pass he’s tried has failed. It’s kinda hard considering he’s been defending all the time to pick out passes but yeah, it’s not been a great game. Ozil has been very good, about the only player who’s been good offensively to be frank. Gnabry’s made 1 nice powerful run straight through them and tried to start an attack but that’s about it.

Have more of the ball now after the goal – they aren’t pressing as high – probably run out of energy a little. Good cross by Santi. Hits Fonte’s arm after it hits his foot but he’s stretching and that is not a penalty in my book – we’ve had a few like that this season.

Monreal  hacked down and why that’s not a yellow card I don’t know. Giroud got one for exactly the same thing. Good free kick to force a corner and a point blank save by Boruc from Kos– first shot on target. Need to get in to the break just 1-0 down.. which we do. Phew. Just phew.

Second half:

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Keeping the ball better straight away. Goal 1-1. Great ball to find Monreal, it’s not a great cross frankly – he wasn’t aiming for Bac at the far post. It’s all Sagna though who wins the ball, great ball to the near post and neat flicky finish by Giroud. Goal 2-1. On the counter, tons of space for Flamini who plays a poor underweighted ball to Ozil who takes it forward, passes it to Santi who hits it reasonably well – but I’m fairly sure he meant to hit it the other side of goal ; ). All the same it turns out to be a good strike.

Lots of keep ball around midfield by both teams, more Arsenal. It’s interesting that Giroud keeps shouting at people to push up and not maybe Flamini or one of the CBs. Which in a way is fine, as he is the first defender and himself chases down every ball. Great little run by Ozil on the counter, has a shot, it bounces off Fonte and onto the bar. I would love to see a little more magic by him once in a way like that even when there isn’t any space. His shooting will improve for sure – next year – it takes time to add things to your game, unlike what some may think.

Monreal’s had an excellent game offensively – but this time he should have scored but snatches at a shot when clear. I wonder who the last LB was though who also was calm in front of goal. Ooh I know – Andre Santos. No kidding. :  ). Jokes apart though, it’s a rare breed to have a full back who can score consistently.

Nothing happening offensively between the 70th and 80th minutes. More scrappy midfield play with neither side creating anything. Ozil drifts off to wide right very often though and Santi drifts off to wide left, which means that at times they’re too far apart to have an impact together.


They’re pressing really high up the pitch. Szcz has had to clear twice in the first 5 minutes and they haven’t been great clearances. Sagna beaten down the right by Shaw and a good cross in but nothing happens. You know, awesome as Bac is, and I do hope he stays – he does get beaten on the outside a bit by quick wingers and full backs – I’ve seen that quite a few times this season. It’s probably one more season at RB, if he stays and then he’s almost certainly going to reinvent himself as a CB – in the EPL at least. Ball stolen from Monreal, dawdling on the edge of the box – big save Szczesny else it’s 1-0 after 7 minutes. Santi robbed on the edge of the left wing, another counter attack, another tackle and corner conceded – it’s all Southampton so far.

Southampton are being allowed to play because number 18 and number 8 (central midfield) are getting a number of balls at their feet – and we’re so deep in our own halves that we’re not pressing them at all. This results in Luke Shaw running deep in our half crossing again and again and Sagna pinned back too – which has resulted in us just hitting long balls to Giroud when we can, and those too have been few. Its reminiscent of how Jonjo Shelvey was running the game at Swansea in the first half, until we sat on him a bit better.

Giroud’s pressing very well but everyone else is so deep that we can’t press well enough and consistently enough. Shaw’s getting forward a little lesser now but the RB has played a 1-2 all around Monreal this time and crossed in – they’re destroying us all over the pitch frankly. Far far too many runs being made from midfield for my liking. Someone has to change something and stop their full backs from getting forward –  that’ll automatically force the midfield back else we’re losing this – 30 minutes.

Monreal’s clearance is closed down and it’s fallen to Gallagher who misses an absolute sitter 5 yards from goal thanks to Szcz bravely coming out and putting him off. 2-0 down would have been hard to come back from in this game. That could be a turning point in this game.

It’s become even harder to mark now because they’re also playing a version of the rotational midfield. Schniederlin’s now dropping deeper and number 18’s pushing up more. Add to that the fact that it seems like they’re playing some 2 up front with Rodriguez and Gallagher which isn’t giving the CBs any time either. It’s really been a torrid half for an overworked defense. Oh and Shaw just put his 500th cross in against Gnabry – it’s been a disaster of a half – not because of our mistakes – they have just been really really good.

Second half:

2-2. Long ball. Defensive mixup – you should never let those long balls bounce at all. Byline. Short cross. Goal. Poor really from Bac and Per I think. It’s interesting that Luke Shaw hasn’t made a single run down the left this half – we’ve shut him down so far.

There’s not enough people pressing this half offensively. Gnabry who had a very quiet game was replaced by the Ox who looked bright but he’s been pressing 2 or 3 people together. Ozil and Santi have both not done enough IMO, from that standpoint. Arteta’s been playing a little further up this half, probably because Flamini is playing as well and has been on the ball the most along with Monreal. That itself shows that our attack hasn’t clicked into gear this half.

Straight red Flamini. No complaints. It’s very similar to the tackle he made in the 1-0 win over Spurs early in the season – only that was without the player in front of him. Here he’s gone through the player. Got the ball yes.. but that’s a red – I’m happy with that if its consistently applied.

Gibbs is on for Santi who took a knock to the ear and looks sharp. Ozil has been outstanding defensively in the last part of the game. The way he’s kept the ball is absolutely brilliant. At all times, he’s had 2 or 3 people with him but he’s continuously managed a sprint, dribble or just kept the ball at his feet long enough to pass it to someone. Arteta was immense too, along with the whole back four. Poldi looked really lazy in the few minutes he came on – sadly. Maybe though, his instructions were to stay up for a counter.


A tight tight game – it could almost have been a CL game, if you look at the playing styles of the 2 teams and how the overall game unwound. We didn’t look like scoring again to be frank, so maybe maybe it’s a good point.

2 comments to Southampton v Arsenal – the tactical review

  • on another note little horse 1-1 hahahhaha
    fabregas can shut his face talking about Ozil being our saviour. Dick.

  • Damilare

    I think the confused one on the little pony was shocked at their result tonight against Westham. I like the way he was stammering during the interview. The ‘pundits’ on supersport3 stammer too.

    The media favourites are not faring better than Arsenal presently. AW had said that the most consistent team would be epl champs.

    Onward, forward and Upward to beat manure tomorrow.