Arsenal produced a fluid and dominant display as they dispatched a hapless, newly promoted, Southampton. The game ended 6-1 but was over when Podolski smashed home a 30th minute free-kick to make it 2-0.
Arsenal set out a somewhat experimental front three, with Gervinho chosen to lead the line in the middle ahead of new signing Olivier Giroud. He was flanked by Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Arsenal played a 4-2-3-1 and had a wealth of attacking talent, with Cazorla supporting the forwards.
Conversely, Southampton set out in a rather negative fashion, lining up with a 4-5-1. They sat deep and narrow and looked to frustrate Arsenal.
The game was won for Arsenal (and lost for Southampton) in the first half, with the Gunners going ahead 4-0 before Southampton grabbing a consolation goal right before half-time.
Southampton played a narrow formation and attempted to sit deep and not concede. It is safe to say this failed badly; they conceded 6 goals. The reason for this was how they lined up in midfield. Arsenal was ruthless in how they exposed the spaces either side of Southampton’s deepest midfielder, Schneiderlin. This was done through runners (most frequently Podolski and Oxlade-Chamberlain) dropping into this space which distorted Southampton’s shape and allowed the fullbacks to advance unopposed (and run amuck), as shown below:
This was evident after three minutes when five players (Cazorla, Podolski, Gervinho, Coquelin and Oxlade-Chamberlain) got in and around Schneiderlin. Supporting defenders dropped and this allowed Jenkinson to join in the attack (whilst Gibbs positioning was already the teams most advanced)
The Arsenal fullback maintained extremely advanced positions all throughout the match, with Gibbs and Jenkinson both completing over 50% of their passes in Southampton’s half of the pitch (KG=55%, CJ=53%), with Gibbs being slightly more penetrative in the final third (playing 25% of his passes in the final third compared to 18% for Jenkinson).
Next Page: Arsenal Goal analysis, second half thoughts & conclusion
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