No tears for Saints

Posted by Chris Rann

Southampton's 2-0 defeat at Arsenal on Saturday perhaps should have prompted a more negative emotional response than it did, but given the fact that the Emirates was also the scene of a defensive horror show last season, it was more a chance to reflect on the progress the club has made in the last year.

The fact that it took an Artur Boruc mistake and a penalty decision that could be argued either way for Arsenal to beat Saints on Saturday says everything about the level of improvement since the last visit.

Sure, Saints still lost the game and were beaten by a better side on the day, but the manner of the defeat left Saints fans with something positive to think about.

- Horncastle: Boruc's bad month continues
- Mangan: Gunners gifted goals to extend lead

Jack Wilshire took to twitter after the game to suggest that they had just beaten a "top six" side in Saints, and that is not to be sniffed at. Strangely it seems that in defeat Saints might have started to be taken seriously as top of the table contenders. Perhaps everyone was expecting this to be the game that signalled the beginning of the end, and it still could be of course, but the manner of the goals that Arsenal scored showed that Saints could have walked away with a point.

Let's not forget that this was not Saints at their best either. Dejan Lovren's late withdrawal and then the subsequent loss of Luke Shaw meant that Saints were playing with a makeshift back four, midfielder James Ward-Prowse slotting in at right-back. It didn't quite click for Saints, and if I am honest they offered little threat up front, but they were resolute, especially in midfield, and Arsenal were restricted to half chances from open play.

Mezut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey and Wilshire will certainly know they have been in a tough game, all three struggled to get a foothold in the match, marshalled expertly by Victor Wanyama and Morgan Schneiderlin, the former especially in superb form.

Let's not take anything away from Arsenal though, at times their play was breathless, and I feared the worst as they had large spells of dominance. The old Saints would have been overrun and capitulated, but the new and improved Saints aren't in the business of losing heavily.

Arsenal are top of the Premier League for a reason, and having bullied both Liverpool and Tottenham in their own back yards, Saints might have thought they could impose themselves in the same way at the Emirates, but that certainly wasn't the case. It was interesting to note though that Saints did have more possession than the Gunners, which away from home, is no mean feat.

It certainly wasn't as disheartening as it might have been at five o'clock on Saturday afternoon, but Saints now face a trip to Stamford Bridge to follow it up. Tough times, but this is where you really prove your credentials.


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