Hassenhuttl has immediate impact as Southampton end Arsenal’s unbeaten streak


Southampton ended Arsenal’s 22-game unbeaten streak in emphatic fashion, winning 3-2 at St Mary’s, a first in over 12 months for the home fans.

Ralph Hassenhuttl knew he had work to do after his first game resulted in a 1-0 loss at Cardiff, but even Southampton fans did not expect such a quick change in fortunes.

Arsenal had defensive problems through both injury and suspension, with Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Shdokran Mustafi suspended so had to forge a makeshift backline. The returning Laurent Koscielny partnered makeshift centre-halves Stephen Lichsteiner and Granit Xhaka.

The wind and rain blustered the players and fans as Southampton looked to ease themselves into the game, keeping the ball when possible and pressing the Arsenal defence, forcing them to look for
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang with the long ball.

Arsenal almost undone all that hard work when a slick counter attack involving Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Alex Iwobi and Aubameyang, the latter forcing Alex McCarthy into a fine save to keep the score level. 

Hassenhuttl deployed a 3-4-3 formation, which gave the fullbacks licence to get forward, Matt Targett and Jan Valery duly obliged, making the pitch as wide as possible when in possession.

It was this route that Southampton took the lead through. Targett crossed for the returning Danny Ings to power in a header from close range leaving Bernd Leno hapless in the Arsenal goal. 

The goal was a wake-up call for Arsenal and their midfield began to dominate the game. Lucas Torreira breaking up play and Matteo Guendouzi pushing the side forward. But the final ball was lacking for large parts of the game.

The Gunners equalised in the 28th minute when Valery was caught napping and Monreal got in behind, crossing for Mkhitaryan to nod home from the penalty spot. 

Both sides probed and Southampton continued an intense press, forcing mistakes from the Arsenal players when attempting to play out from the back. However they failed to capitalise on any opportunities. Nathan Redmond and Stuart Armstrong had feeble efforts which Leno dealt with comfortably. 

Saints regained the lead just before halftime when Danny Ings again was left unmarked in the area to cushion a Redmond cross into the corner, the hosts were again in the ascendancy.

It took just eight minutes of the second half for Arsenal to level. Mkhitaryan’s shot was heavily deflected off the unfortunate Jannik Vestegaard and dribbled past McCarthy.

Both sides were afforded plenty of opportunities in the second half, McCarthy and Leno were both called into action and did well to keep the score level. 

Saints had a goal ruled out midway through the half after a Maya Yoshida header was well saved by Leno and the ball smuggled over the line in a goalmouth scramble, but the linesman correctly ruled offside. 

Charlie Austin was introduced with 20 minutes to go for goalscorer Danny Ings, and repaid the faith shown in him by Hassenhutt as he nodded in the winner with just five minutes left.

Arsenal bombarded the Southampton area with long balls as the Saints were camped inside their own half for the remainder of the game, time wasting and cheap tricks helped the home side to hold out for a much needed win.

Hassenhuttl ran onto the pitch in a Klopp-esque celebration as the final whistle went and Southampton players were jubilant on the pitch.


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