Digital Football Journalist @ronnabe
Arsenal 2-0 Southampton: Gunners up to fourth with first-half double
Report and highlights as Southampton stay third bottom
Last Updated: 24/02/19 7:36pm
First-half goals from Alexandre Lacazette and Henrikh Mkhitaryan earned Arsenal a 2-0 win over Southampton which moved them into fourth place in the Premier League table.
Lacazette was given one of the simplest chances he could wish for after six minutes when Mkhitaryan's half-volley found him unmarked six yards out and he directed the ball beyond Saints goalkeeper Angus Gunn with a smart flick.
Mkhitaryan went from provider to scorer 11 minutes later, turning home Alex Iwobi's deflected cross with a composed finish into the near corner from the right.
Southampton occasionally threatened and Matt Targett twice forced Bernd Leno into smart saves, but Arsenal moved back into the top four and above Manchester United with the victory.
Arsenal: Leno (7), Lichtsteiner (6), Sokratis (7), Mustafi (6), Kolasinac (7), Ramsey (6), Torreira (7), Xhaka (7), Mkhitaryan (8), Lacazette (7), Iwobi (8).
Subs: Koscielny, (6), Ozil (6), Aubameyang (6),
Southampton: Gunn (7), Valery (6), Stephens (5), Vestergaard (7), Bednarek (7), Targett (6), Hojbjerg (6), Romeu (6), Ward-Prowse (6), Armstrong (5), Redmond (6).
Subs: Austin (5), Obafemi (5), Elyounoussi (5)
Man of the match: Alex Iwobi
Southampton started with the same vigour from their shock win over Arsenal back in December and could have led inside five minutes when Nathan Redmond did excellently to beat the offside trap and cut inside, but his shot was blocked by Leno's legs.
Arsenal immediately gave their visitors a lesson in finishing as they got the ball forward in a matter of seconds, with Iwobi's cross reaching Mkhitaryan, whose half-volley back across goal hit Lacazette and the Frenchman's second touch fired the ball past Gunn from six yards.
Targett tested Gunners 'keeper Leno again when he burst past Stephan Lichtsteiner down the left, but two strong hands kept out his shot towards the far post.
Arsenal welcomed Mesut Ozil back to their league line-up, but only onto the bench, where he joined Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. They made four changes in total, including starts for Aaron Ramsey and Sokratis.
Southampton started without a recognised striker with Shane Long injured, but also dropped Alex McCarthy to name Angus Gunn in goal. Matt Targett also replaced Ryan Bertrand, who similarly was relegated to the bench.
Arsenal doubled their lead in comical circumstances when Gunn's poor clearance landed perfectly for Iwobi, whose deflected cross fell nicely for Mkhitaryan to slide the ball inside the far post.
Lacazette should have put the game out of Southampton's sight when Sead Kolasinac unselfishly played the ball through for him in a good scoring position, but he blazed over from a similar distance to his opener and let Saints off the hook.
Two attacking half-time changes from the visitors did little to inspire them back into the game, and Arsenal controlled much of the second 45 minutes like a training match.
Late on, substitute Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could have added a third but his cross-shot towards Lacazette was kept out by Gunn's trailing leg.
Targett's volley called Leno into action again, but Arsenal's lead was never in great danger as they strolled back into the top four.
- Arsenal are unbeaten in their last 24 home league games against Southampton (W18 D6) since a 0-1 loss in November 1987.
- Southampton have won none of their 20 away Premier League games against Arsenal (D5 L15) - the most a team has played away at another without ever winning in the competition.
- Since losing 2-0 against Manchester City on the opening weekend, Arsenal have remained unbeaten in 13 Premier League home games (W11 D2), winning the last seven in a row.
- Southampton have lost seven of their last nine Premier League away trips to London (W1 D1) and are winless in the last four (D1 L3).
- Henrikh Mkhitaryan has been directly involved in each of Arsenal's four Premier League goals against Southampton this season (3 goals, 1 assist).
- Alexandre Lacazette has scored against 18 of the 22 Premier League teams he has faced with Arsenal.
- Alexandre Lacazette is the first Arsenal player to score in four consecutive Premier League games since Robin van Persie in March 2012 (five games).
Man of the match - Alex Iwobi
The Arsenal winger has often struggled with his final ball but his all-round game was excellent against Southampton, which was displayed by his involvement in both goals. It was his cross which Mkhitaryan turned goalwards for Lacazette's opener, and another which was finished off by Mkhitaryan to double the lead.
He put in more crosses in open play than anyone else (5), and likewise made more key passes (3) than any of his team-mates.