Arsenal 6-1 Southampton: Playing better than we look on paper

In a league with clubs like Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea — teams with so much star power it is almost ridiculous — the only way we challenge at the top is by ensuring the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Four games in. Two wins, two draws. Eight goals scored, one — one – goal conceded. The latest game a 6-1 annihilation of a team that gave the best two teams in England a run for their money, scoring twice and holding leads on both occasions.

From a results point of view our boys have started well this season. The same could be said from a performance point of view.

Leaving aside the goalkeeper’s clanger — a blemish on our defensive record that was more frustrating than forgivable — we have rarely been troubled at the back. Going forward we have improved in a short space of time: from no goals to no goals to two goals to six goals.

But take a look at glance at some of the names on our team sheet from Saturday: Jenkinson. Mertesacker. Gibbs. Oxlade-Chamberlain. Coquelin. Gervinho. These are not the sort of players that would glam up a Barcelona or Manchester City.

We are not a team that looks great on paper. But yet, at this early stage of the season, we are playing well and getting positive results.

To me that says we are functioning well as a team and getting the most out of our star players.

Our new system, featuring two designated holding midfielders, is utilising Santi Cazorla to his fullest. He is able to move wherever he wants and it is showing. His intelligent movement has proved impossible to stop and has been directly involved in nearly every goal we have scored.

A player like Kieran Gibbs is coming to life because he is interacting well with and trusting the man in front of him, Lukas Podolski. Per Mertesacker’s calmness and positional sense is making life easier for an inexperienced Carl Jenkinson. There are little relationships that are forming all over the pitch and they are lifting the performances of the individuals above what we have seen before.

For example, Wenger’s decision to play Gervinho as a central striker was not only inspired because it highlighted the Ivorian’s knack for a clever off-the-ball run but because it allowed Podolski to stay in his favoured spot on the left. By sticking to the German’s strengths, which in turn brought the best out of a marauding Gibbs, it allowed the entire forward unit to function more effectively.

In a league with clubs like Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea — teams with so much star power it is almost ridiculous — the only way we challenge at the top is by ensuring the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

It’s encouraging at this early stage to see that we might be capable of doing just that.

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24 Responses to “Arsenal 6-1 Southampton: Playing better than we look on paper”

  1. Edward
    September 17, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

    what a beautifully thought article. Things which are true and that i had not thought before. well done!

  2. 1NiltotheArsenal
    September 17, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

    A great weekend to celebrate the promise and possibilities that the New Arsenal team displayed against a brave, if suicidal Southampton attacking side. I hope they find a way to stay up as thy are easily my favorite of the promoted teams this year.

    As for us, that was some sexy football on display Saturday! And we didn’t have Koscielny, Diaby, Sagna or Wilshere. If we can produce that kind of performance (if not that kind of lopsided score), over the next few fixtures, it will shape up to be one hell of a season.

    Cazorla, Arteta: We have the best midfield in England right now. We have a Natural Born Killer and pure striker in Podolski. Gervinho was inspired at his new position and was pretty much unplayable all afternoon. Gibbs stepped up. Even Ramsey seemed to have his mojo back.

    Let’s hope Szczesny can shake out the cobwebs once and for all before he faces the likes of Tevez, Aguero, Silva and Balotelli…

    Looking good my friends, looking really good…CYOG

  3. Andrew Weber
    September 17, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    @ Edward — Thank-you sir! Glad to have brought something fresh to the table for you.

    @1NiltotheArsenal — We do have an outstanding midfield. It is also balanced. We seem to be able to both keep the ball for long spells and also play without it for decent periods too. We look sharper on the break, which is down to Podolski, Ox-Chambo, Gervinho, Cazorla etc’s directness. It’s a great weapon to have added to our armory.

    Looking forward to the Montpellier game. Preview up tomorrow.

  4. Retsub
    September 17, 2012 at 2:37 pm #

    Well summed up and very accurate. It’s great the way the team are gelling, German efficiency, Spanish flair, English hunger, Belgian efficiency. Just need less slippery Polish.

    Will be interesting to see the team tomorrow. Kos must be very frustrated, but although he looks a little ungainly the BFGis undoubtably a calming incident. It will be a tough call for Wenger at the weekend, great as he has been the BFg could get caught out by a quick City attack.

    I haven’t been Gervinhos biggest fan but hats off to the guy he added a new dimension to his game at the weekend

    Hope Giroud gets off the mark tomorrow. If he can break his duck and Szs can become more consistent we could really get going

  5. lorenzo
    September 17, 2012 at 2:55 pm #

    if single words describe arsenal at the moment its got to be either neat, or efficient. they look that good, to think that jack, abou, walcott, cazorla and giroud are yet to hit full stride, the omens do look good indeed.

  6. Borntobeagunner(btbag)
    September 17, 2012 at 3:32 pm #

    ‘The only way we challange at the top is by ensuring that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts’. Arguably my favourite quote of the arsenal season so far. Andrew Weber, i can sociologically said that you just succeded in digging out one of Wenger’s most philosophical mind in the round leather game so far. Thank you Andrew.

  7. Leigh
    September 17, 2012 at 3:53 pm #

    Great write up as always mate!

  8. Terry
    September 17, 2012 at 4:32 pm #

    It was a good performance. Coquelin slotted in nicely and I hope he gets a few games. Wenger is going to have lots of big decisions to make in the midfield if and when Wilshire, Rosicky, Frimpong and Diaby are all fit. Also Jenkinson is Improving each game and his partnership with AOC is also coming along. Lots of positives. Now the season starts to get serious with the Champions League starting and then a trip to Man $ity. Fingers crossed.

  9. Sam
    September 17, 2012 at 5:17 pm #

    I love this article no body take us very serious cos we dont have rvp yaya aguero roony but we been the best so far this season in the league just cann’t wait for man c.game to come so that we will see how good we can be this season.

  10. Andrew Weber
    September 17, 2012 at 5:50 pm #

    Thanks for all the praise guys (and gals, I hope, although your voices seem unfortunately a little quieter round here at the moment).

    I must say that it’s just been great to have things so positive around here. The team are of course largely responsible for that, but I am appreciating the quality of the comments being left. I think it’s raising the standards and creating inviting conversation and I’m delighted to see that.

    I am hoping to have a Bordeaux fan answer some questions about Montpellier for me, which I will include as tomorrow’s preview. Fingers crossed, but it should be a good read.

  11. billi
    September 17, 2012 at 5:57 pm #

    keep the fingers crossed, that it finally works out this season :cool:

  12. GunnerBoss
    September 17, 2012 at 7:32 pm #

    I suggested earlier(after the two barren draws) we should attack running into the box(striker inclusive) and look how many goals we have scored since using this tactic. I’m very impreseed. Its like Wenger listens to me(kill urselves). It will be very hard to choose between Podolski(his workrate) and the sublime Cazorla(Rosicky & Arshavin’s younger brother) as our best player for the season.

    Look what competition for places is doing for everyone. Fans are so satisfied, everyone is very happy.

    Nobody seems to have mentioned that we experimented a new hybrid formation……Worked perfectly cos they seemed to have had a game plan for our former predictable formation. Is this a sign of Wenger giving up on his rigid tactics? H..l yeah. He should help them with some psychology(when we are 3, 4 goals up). it was sad to see us concede very cheaply.

    Is RVP missing us? NO! Cos he’s earning more than 3 times what Cazorla is earning(says a lot doesnt it). Wenger should be given a lot of credit for getting Cazorla and changing his rigid 4-3-3. It was nice to see us look intelligent after a very long time. Very refreshing indeed.

    Finally, I have always vouched for Coquelin (he’s improved a lot more than we think). Today was for Walcott and not Santos. Arshavin and Rosicky dont seem to get any look in, but whenever Cazorla is indisposed, we will definitely NEVER be reduced to bare bones again this season for sure. Sad to see Diaby not continue with his development, but this amazing win with my preferred midfield combination (albeit with different tactics) seems to say a lot.

  13. Jesse
    September 17, 2012 at 7:32 pm #

    Andy, great piece and very true indeed, we don’t have the big names, but its good to see the team working together as a whole.
    i was a bit disappointed by our goal keeper because it was a flimsy mistake, but overall, the defense still seems to be working like a well oiled machine.
    looking forward to city, that game will truly gauge how good we are….Montpellier next

  14. 1NiltoTheArsenal
    September 17, 2012 at 10:02 pm #

    @GunnerBoss, Good point on the new formation. Gervinho thrived. This season more than other others, Wenger has the opportunity show some tactical fluidity with the weapons and talent at our disposal.

    Cazorla is a revelation. Comparisons to Iniesta and Xavi do not seem ridiculous 4 games in. What do they drink in Spain, anyway? Can someone please ship some over to Canada, as our minnow of a team tries desperately to qualify for the world cup?

    Looking forward to the Montpelier preview. If Giroud had broken his duck by now, he’d be a no-brainer to start, but clearly the in-form man is Podolski.

  15. jet
    September 17, 2012 at 11:13 pm #

    this team is amazing at the moment. can’t wait to see what goes on against man city. i love what arteta is doing at the moment, but miss his play a little further forward as well. he’s definitely underpraised hero for me. i’m developing a massive man-crush on podolski – the dude is a beast with his desire and hunger. these guys are really getting my hopes up.

  16. jet
    September 17, 2012 at 11:13 pm #

    andrew – still loving the b&w pics. you’re finding some excellent ones. that one of the team is framable.

  17. BrisVegas Gooner
    September 18, 2012 at 12:26 am #

    Nice piece Andrew! We are definitely looking like a team. Players who wants to play for each other and not the egotistical money hungry stars that we had.

    It kinda reminds me of the Arsenal team ’07 edition. Henry just left and we did not have that star power. We were on top most of the season due to everyone stepping up but struggled to finish coz our captain was weak. So weak he plays for the spuds now. We should be fine leadership wise coz we got 2 level headed blokes in TV5 and Arteta.

    Loving the link up plays between poldi, gibbs and cazorla. Cant wait to see them run rings against man city. Bring on Montepellier!

  18. delano
    September 18, 2012 at 4:21 am #

    Ya i cant agree any better. We are looking good but neither of the other top four is looking bad at all. Thats why am not carried away with our form. I was so disappointed that that our good record of conceding no goal in four games had to blatantly go like that with no pressure at all. I wouldnt hesitate benching Schezy for that stupid mistake. Manone has performed far better in such situations. He has great height and one wonders why he refused to punch that ball out of play. In fact he is not injured as people may think but he is serving the punishment for the stupid mistake. That aside i think we are strong enough this season for the top four at the moment and not the premiership in all fairness. Why do i say so. United, City &Chelsea equally have strong squads. Out of that we seem to have a slight advantage over other teams like Spurs and Newcastle.
    The tactics am seeing will take us places. Atleast Wenger respects the opposition and takes time to study the opponent unlike in the past when we were programmed to attack regardless of the strength of the opponent. Remember the thumping at Old trafford last season but we kept on attacking . Scored two goals and shipped in 8.
    Our system will now favour all players and i expect us to be more defensive against City just like we did at Liverpool. We must let Citeh enjoy all the possession it needs as long as they cant hurt us. I expect speed stars like Walcott to be on the pitch at one time as counter attacking football will be our strategy. We must respect them before we grab all the three points from Etihad come Sunday afterall we are ahead of them in the table standings. Belief and tactics will see us collect the three points. I have no time for Montepellier as it is a no brainer . We meet on Sunday.

  19. voley_gun
    September 18, 2012 at 5:06 am #

    Sorry that i witnessed only highlights of the game and curse ESPN for not showing it live.

    I think the new found team better than papers is probably because of the change in arsene tactics on picking players based on performance and a healthy competition at all areas of the pitch along with good partnership.

    Unlike the previous seasons where the players are guaranteed a first team chance irrespective of their form has changed and everyone be it mature or young has someone to push him in the back and ready to steal his place in the squad.

    It is more important for Arsene to keep them fresh,competitive and injury free , to keep the winning wheel running for the whole season.

  20. BrisVegas Gooner
    September 18, 2012 at 9:59 am #

    @delano You should read/watch the press conference the gaffer had. He did talk about being frustrated about Sczcesny’s mistake but he is still no. 1. You cant keep changing keepers everytime they conceed a goal or make a mistake. In Wenger’s word “Otherwise you would have 3 bad keepers”. I believe he was injured before the game but decided to play on to prove himself. He is usually strong in the air but his distribution during the game was not his usual best. Pressured by Mannone’s play perhaps?

    @voley_gun I dont think players were guaranteed first team place. It was more a lack of depth or the team being unlucky with injuries.

  21. Retsub
    September 18, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

    Brisvegas gooners

    Totally agree with you. Mannone did very well and I rate him higher than Fabianski. Mannone is defintly a prospect, but as well as he did, he did look a little nervous uncomfortable to me and I don’t think our opponents fully exploited that. Szs on the other hand exudes confidence, in fact his problem may be he is over confident. If I was in the back four I would far rather hae Szs behind me. That said maybe he needs a reality check and Mannone should start tonight.

    Either way Szs has to start Sunday

    And just a quick mention for Carl Jenkinson. He is by no means a superstar and he was very cheap, but he is a real grafter. Whilst he lacks Sagnas defensive skills I think he offers a lot more going forward (unless we are playing Spurs)

  22. delano
    September 19, 2012 at 5:02 pm #

    With Carl Jenkins am surely beginning to forget Sagna

  23. Bryan
    September 20, 2012 at 12:22 am #

    Having had an arsenal season ticket for 5 years this is the first time I think we have a real strong team! We have had better individuals and better players …. But this group look like they have a good balance and have hopefully lost the ‘ oh so near’ status!

  24. archie
    October 21, 2012 at 6:48 pm #

    hi arsenal this is a late one about when you faced southhampton wow i never acturrly new you beat them 6 -1 i love you arsenal even when you lose

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