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Naturally, we as Gooners want our boys to win every game. We'd love nothing better than a Football Manager-style (when you reset the game after each loss, that is) glorious quadruple from the Arsenal every season. Realistically though, there are priorities to our season and this is not one of them. Our youthful reserve side were well beaten by an excellent Southampton side, and really, good luck to them.
It was always going to be rough going with a defense consisting of Francis Coquelin out of position at left back, Callum Chambers and Isaac Hayden in the center, and Hector Bellerin at right back. Frankly, I think I have t-shirts older than at least three of those gentlemen. Beyond that, Alexis Sanchez and Jack Wilshere were the only first-teamers involved. David Ospina got his first start for the club in goal, as well.
The Colombian had to be sharp early doors, as he saved an early chance well with his feet. Southampton had most of the ball in the early going, in fact. They haven't lost a match since their season opener at Anfield, and there was no reason for them to be shy about attacking Arsenal's inexperienced defense.
However, it would be the home side who seized an early lead. A free kick was won just outside the penalty area, with Alexis Sanchez as the obvious candidate to take it. The Chilean didn't disappoint, his curler flying directly into the upper 90, leaving Fraser Forster with no chance. Do yourself a favor and hunt down a highlight of the goal if you didn't have a chance to see the match.
I don't believe that Forster was ever seriously threatened again after the goal, though. The Saints closed ranks brilliantly and then took their chances when they were presented to them. Speaking of, the lead would only last for six minutes. Tomas Rosicky, who played exactly like you'd expect someone with no first-team football yet this season, conceded a brain-dead penalty on a play where there was absolutely no danger.
This leads me to one of my pet theories on the art of goalkeeping - I believe it's a mistake for keepers to pick a side and dive. For one thing, the dink down the middle is utilized far more than it used to be. Besides, if a penalty is struck well and into a corner, you're not getting there even if you guessed right. But, you will concede 100% of the time when you guess wrong. Surely, it's better to wait that extra second and try and get to the ones that aren't struck that sweetly?
Anyway, Ospina guessed and Dusan Tadic dinked it down the middle.
One would think that the goal would have spurred the men in red into action, but they never did click in open play. Given that this version of the team has never played together before, it's not entirely surprising. For every 7-0 evisceration of Sheffield United with gorgeous chips from Carlos Vela, you're going to get ones like this as well.
The winner, when it came, was one of those ones where you can't do much other than shrug your shoulders and tip your cap to the guy who scored. A Southampton corner kick was cleared quite a long way outside the penalty area. Normally on a shot like that, you ask questions about why the shooter was not closed down. But, we're talking about a fullback who had to be 35 yards away from goal. If he's going to hit a wickedly-swerving rocket like that, what can you do? You'd want him to take that shot every time - 95% of the time it would end up in the Van Allen Belt anyway.
Side note: If you blame Ospina for that, please ask a friendly neighborhood goalkeeper for an informed opinion next time. Seriously.
Anyway, that was about it for incident. The remainder of the match was largely played out between the two penalty areas, the visitors mostly content to play time out knowing that Arsenal were not at their sharpest on the day. I do think that substitutions could have come earlier than the 67th minute (halftime would have worked for me), but I'm not even going to get upset about that stuff anymore. Arsene is Arsene, it would be like getting angry at the tides at this point.
So, we can cancel the quadruple celebrations then, I suppose. I can see already that some people are losing their minds out there about the result, but my advice is to chill out. We never take this competition seriously, and we have far bigger fish to fry in just a few days with the NLD upcoming anyway.
Breathe in, breathe out. The Scum on Saturday, let's smash 'em!
The Modern Gooner Player Ratings:
Ospina 7, Coquelin 7, Hayden 7, Chambers 7, Bellerin 7 (Akpom N/A), Diaby 7 (Cazorla 7), Wilshere 6, Campbell 6 (Oxlade-Chamberlain 7), Rosicky 5, Sanchez 7, Podolski 6
Man of the Match: I'm going to go ahead and give it to Southampton's Jose Fonte, who was calm and assured at the heart of their defense.