Arsenal have renewed hopes of a top four finish in the Premier League with a 2-0 win against Southampton at the St. Mary’s Stadium, as the Gunners climb back up to 5th place.
Two second half goals from Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud set the North Londoners up for victory down on the south coast, bringing Arsenal to within three points of Manchester City, currently on 69, meanwhile also holding a game in hand in comparison to 3rd-placed Liverpool.
In an encounter dominated by the increased pressure orbiting around the two French managers on either side, a cagey start saw Arsenal register their first half-chance as late as the 14th minute, as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain roamed inside from the right flank to set Aaron Ramsey from a sizeable distance prior to a tame shot wide.
Southampton accentuated their dominance in the following exchanges of the game with a lofted pass by Ryan Bertrand into Dusan Tadic, who saw his touch inside the box intercepted by Shkodran Mustafi before Petr Čech was called into action to deny Manolo Gabbiadini’s shot.
Nathan Redmond took the final risk of the half with a shot from range that would’ve found the top corner in the 42nd minute, had is not been for another good save by Čech.
Alexis Sanchez did soothe the frustrations in the second half, courtesy of a first-time assist from Mesut Özil and a crucial shoulder-drop by the Chilean that took two defenders out of his way, as a low drive in the 60th minute beat Forster and took Arsenal a goal up.
Granit Xhaka forced the Southampton shot-stopper into action with a strike from range in the 66th minute, whereas the Saints neared the equaliser at the other end through James Ward-Prowse, who headed his effort over when found deep in the Arsenal box with a cross.
Second-half substitute Olivier Giroud was on hand to kill the game off in the 83rd minute, however, acting as the recipient of Ramsey’s header across goal at the back-post to nod the ball in himself inside the six-yard-box.
Sofiane Boufal could’ve sprung life back into Southampton just three minutes later following Xhaka’s loss of possession, but the Moroccan underwhelmed with an effort against the side-netting, as Arsenal ran away with all three points.
By Patrick Ribeiro
Petr Čech (7); Rob Holding (6), Shkodran Mustafi (6), Nacho Monreal (7); Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (6), Granit Xhaka (6), Aaron Ramsey (7), Kieran Gibbs (5); Mesut Özil (6), Danny Welbeck (6), Alexis Sanchez (7)
Subs: Héctor Bellerín (6), Olivier Giroud (6), Francis Coquelin (5)