Mikel Arteta praised Arsenal’s resilience as they avenged their exit from the FA Cup against Southampton with a 3–1 win in the Premier League rematch on Tuesday. His reign was seen by the Arteta side as they finished with a 1-0 fourth round defeat to the FA Cup holders on Saturday at St. Mary’s. But Arsenal made amends for that change four days later on their return to Southampton with a convincing success. Unhappy with Stuart Armstrong’s early strike for the hosts, Arsenal were ahead of half-time thanks to goals from Nicolas Pepe and the impressive Bucayo Saka.
Alexander Lacazette won the Arsenal game behind Arsenal for the first time since Arteta took over in December 2019.
Arsenal remain eighth after their fifth win in their last six league matches, putting them in a rich vein of form ahead of Saturday’s visit from title contender Manchester United.
Arsenal are now just five points from the top four, after slipping towards the charge zone in December.
Arteta believes it is less for the mental strength of his players.
“Winning a football game brings confidence. We were doing things right but losing the game. It showed a lot of intelligence and flexibility from the team.”
He said, “We scored a goal from a corner but responded straight away. We were good on the ball. We got out of trouble and created many big chances.
“Our pressure was fantastic. It was a strong performance. We still have a lot to do. We have to improve and be humble.”
On Saka’s latest impressive performance, Arteta said: “He has been very consistent. He has played and adapted to various positions. He is assisting the players. It was another strong performance.
“Both he and Emil (Smith Rowe) were brilliant again. They should keep going.”
Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was again unavailable for “personal family reasons”, missing even after last weekend’s FA Cup loss, yet they did not miss Gabon.
– Dynamic Arsenal –
A defense-splitting pass from Granit Zhaca kicked off Lacazette’s run, but the French striker defeated Alex McCarthy only to beat the St. Keeper.
Southampton ran the most to gain the lead in the third minute.
Arsenal looked unusually solid at the back, with four consecutive league clean sheets prior to their visit to St. Mary’s, but Armstrong’s goal would have impressed Arteta.
James Ward-Provsey turned his corner to the edge of the area where Armstrong, left untouched by dozens of Pepe, made a fierce strike against Arsenal keeper Berned Leno.
If Pepe was the sacrificial goat for the Southampton opener, then the Ivory Coast winger made amends in the eighth minute.
After Thomas Parte pressed Southampton into possession, Zhaca’s pass made Pepe Racing clear and he slipped into the far corner for his sixth goal of the season.
Cedric Soares was inches away from overtaking Arsenal against his old club, which was wide from the edge of the field.
Saka has underlined his billing as one of Arsenal’s brightest young stars this season and the 19-year-old hit the 39th minute in clinical style.
Lacazette’s pass gave Sak a chance to run past Southampton’s defense and when McCarthy broke through his line, the Arsenal winger rolled him round and scored one into the empty net.
Saka’s fourth goal in his final six league appearances should have been canceled out by Theo Walcott shortly after the interval, but the former Arsenal winger shot straight into Leno.
It was an important miss as Arsenal held firm and wrapped up the points in the 73rd minute.
Cedric’s brilliant long pass found Saka in the Southampton area and sent a low ball into the compartment six yards to bring Lacazette back home.
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