Southampton 0-2 Arsenal: Gunners return to winning ways
Southampton 0-2 Arsenal: Eddie Nketiah and Joe Willock score as Gunners return to winning ways after the dismissal of Jack Stephens.
With the pressure on following back-to-back defeats to Man City and Brighton that had seen the Gunners slip into the bottom half, Nketiah took advantage of Alex McCarthy’s howler to open the scoring before Willock made the points safe late on after Jack Stephens had been sent off.
Mikel Arteta made four changes to his side, including restoring the fit-again Granit Xhaka to the line-up in place of Matteo Guendouzi, who was dropped from the matchday squad completely after his spat with Brighton’s Neal Maupay.
The Gunners twice went close to opening the scoring inside ten minutes, denied first by the offside flag as Nkeitah converted Bukayo Saka’s low cross, and then by the crossbar after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had been released by a terrific long ball from Kieran Tierney.
When the opener did come, it was gift-wrapped, Saints ‘keeper McCarthy dallying in the possession and then bizarrely passing straight to Nkeitah, who gratefully finished into an empty net.
The young striker wasted a decent chance to double the lead on the stroke of half-time, going for goal himself and getting the finish all wrong when he might have laid off to Aubameyang.
Emiliano Martinez’s brilliant long kick created a similar opportunity soon after the restart, this time finding Aubameyang who did look to feed Nkeitah, but Jan Bednarek’s crucial intervention denied him a second.
Southampton improved markedly, but despite enjoying lengthy spells of pressure struggled to create clear-cut chances, as Nathan Redmond found the side netting with a back-post effort before substitute Shane Long forced Martinez into his most notable save after good chest control.
A potentially nervy finish for the Gunners was averted when Stephens was shown red after bringing down Aubameyang with the striker through on goal, and though substitute Alexandre Lacazette saw two efforts blocked from the resulting free-kick, Willock slotted the rebound home to give Arteta a first away league win in charge.