Pod, Ches, BFG, & Jenks at full time

Man at the match, Chary: Saints in Hell – Adkins boys get six of the best

Tactical naiveté from the South coasters meant an irresistible first half performance from Arsenal’s attacking resulted in that rare and welcome occurrence – an Arsenal home victory free from any alarms or scares.

For my first visit to Ashburton Grove a day that may be the last rose of summer before autumn descends bathed my corner of the stadium (area 10, north bank lower tier) in hot sunshine.

Due to various transport mishaps your humble scribe was unable to have any pre match alcoholic relaxers so I was introduced to a new experience – watching a match completely sober. It goes without saying I wished for a comfortable game for our new look team and that was what I got.

A slight surprise was the use of Gervinho on the right of the front three, with Podolski on the left and Cazorla predominantly through the middle; the midfield three being The Ox, Arteta and, also surprisingly, Coquelin.
An early shot from our new number nine saw the jittery Southampton keeper spill the ball, but luckily not into harm’s way.

Having not seen our new signings from the stands having heard about Cazorla’s trickery and magic the reality was every bit as good as the expectation. Even from where I sat (or stood as for most of the match area 10 had clumps of constantly standing supporters) you could almost see the panic in the Southampton defenders faces whenever our Spanish maestro ran at them. Of course The Saints double teamed him most of the time and naturally stuck in a few “honest” tackles to try and kick him out of his stride. I see most opposition teams identifying Santi as the danger man and he will be singled out for close attention.

Podolski was all strength, determination and industry as he would chase after lost causes and win back possession with tenacity and it was just such an occasion where he miscontrolled a pass, tackled back and got the ball, then fed it in to the overlapping Gibbs who shot and, we thought scored, as he claimed the goal and in real time it looked like his goal. As the stadium screen didn’t award him the goal it confirmed what the replay suggested – that prolific ManUre striker – Mr Own Goal had scored for us.

Ashburton in sunshine Ashburton in sunshine

Ahh – an early(ish) goal and Gooners could relax as Southampton continued to play an open game – no lines of four players strung across the pitch defending as usually happens when the lesser teams come to play us. This meant more chances were created and another change from last season was a willingness to shoot more often, especially in the first half; defensively the back four looked more composed with Jenkinson especially impressive with his forward runs and defensive work rate and the Mertesacker (aka The BFG) making plenty of interceptions.

The squeeze applied by the Arsenal midfield led to a free kick in what would last season have been Robin Van Judas territory. Up stepped The Pod and thumped in a howitzer of a free kick which the keeper had no chance with and the stadium couldn’t quite believe an Arsenal forward could score from a free kick after years of the ManUre number 20 scuffing and skying all the free kicks we’d earn. Cue mass renditions of “He scores when he wants”

He scores when he wants The Pod’s freekick

Most teams would see two nil in around half an hour as a signal to tighten up defensively and stop attacking – not Southampton who carried on piling forward, with their number 42(Puncheon) catching the eye with a few tricks and pace on our left flank leading to a handful of corners.

What, you're still attacking ? Southampton corner

A neat flick over a Southampton fullback, who misjudged his positioning, from the ever impressive Arteta landed directly into Gervinho’s path who blasted in first time to make it three nil and just reward for a dazzling performance from the Ivorian who played with a sense of urgency and an attacking tempo that did justice to his talents –more of that please.

Even at three down, the willingness to carry on attacking meant Southampton left space in the midfield for Cazorla and Podolski to combine to set up Gibbs for another shot after another overlapping pass which produced another goal for that ManUre striker, Mr O.G. Four nil just before half time and the Saints supporters were completely dejected.

Perhaps it was the heat but the denizens of the North Bank turned out to be not only to be vociferous in their support but sometimes overly critical of a misplaced pass. The reactions to the Saints first half injury time goal seemed a tad over the top and disproportionate to a 4-1 half time score even though the goal was conceded due to Chesney’s fumbling of the ball after a cross that came in because Gibbs lost track of the attacker he should have been marking. Shrieks of “We don’t know what we’re doing” and “We’re a f**king shambles!” could be heard.

This caused the hitherto comatose away support to give us the “You’re going to win f**k all” chant, quite rich for a team heading for a fourth defeat in a row and rooted to the bottom of the table. Naturally the North Bank replied with “You’ll never play here again”

The so called contract rebel Theo had appeared for a kick around at half time with Arsenal’s speed driver Santos and Ramsey and the current second choice keeper Manone- however Wenger has made it known he expects Vito to fight for the keepers spot and after a few errors today perhaps Chesney is under a little pressure.

Half time kickabout Theo, Santos & Ramsey at half time

The second half started at a slower tempo but with Arsenal enjoying greater possession however as the tempo dropped Southampton started to pass the ball around and have a spell whereby Arsenal couldn’t get hold of the ball.

This, and the substitution of the fading Coquelin with Ramsey, seemed to wake Arsenal up and a few more corners at the Southampton end resulted plus some more free kicks.

Ramsey made a mug of another Southampton defender; much like Arteta did in the first half, with a flick that allowed him to run on and canon a shot of the post which rebounded into Gervinho’s path who stumbled the ball over the line from a foot or two out.

The forehead makes it 5 After Gervinho’s second goal

Gervinho’s confidence will grow from game to game now and the ovation he received after he was subbed shortly after scoring his second can only benefit his future performances.

Giroud and Theo came on for Gervinho and Podolski with Theo’s introduction causing a chap in front of me to make clear where he stood on Theo “Sign up or f**k off Theo” was his verdict, however he was on his own as a couple of his friends were goading him with the “The—oo” chant, so when Theo added a sixth goal, as a result of a Vermaelen drive ricocheting around the box, all those around him(myself included) took up the “The-oo” chant while pointing at him.

Initially Theo’s subdued reaction to scoring made me wonder if he was sulking, but as an ex-Southampton player it made sense he wouldn’t overtly celebrate.

Final whistle and a hefty boost to our goal difference and three points saw us climb to third in the fledgling table with the lasting memory being of the two Germans, Chesney and Jenkinson staying on to salute the North Bank. As they turned to leave we started up the”He scores when he wants” song and Lukas turned back to applaud us.

This guy could be special for us as indeed the team could be.



(on YouTube and twitter as @charybdis1966)

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About ChärybdÏß1966

As a product of 1970’s Essex I was only ever going to be Arsenal or West Ham – luckily the playground bullies in my junior school were Gooners so given the “choice” it had to be Arsenal. First Arsenal memories are of the Alan Sunderland 1979 FA Cup final when my dislike of ManUre started, which was then turned into an abhorrence by the battle of Old Trafford in the 90-91 season (“You can stick your 2 points up your Arse!”) and it to this day burns brightly as a hatred of all things Red Manc. Match day reporter for 7am where I hope to bring some of the atmosphere of the game and crowd to my reports – I will call the match as I see it at the time – but always from a Gooner’s point of view. Hate reporting on losses but luckily that doesn’t happen often. UTA! On Youtube and twitter as @charybdis1966.

19 thoughts on “Man at the match, Chary: Saints in Hell – Adkins boys get six of the best

  1. Vote -1 Vote +1Micheal

    After the first half of pure pleasure except for the “incident”, I haven’t felt so confident in the team for a long time.
    Can I have more please?

  2. Vote -1 Vote +11niltothearsenal

    What a rubibish match. We conceded – Bould out now!

    Seriously, a nice wrap up of great Saturday which was full of the promise that this team holds. Days like yesterday are what we deserve, and it seems less like a one-off than it would have felt in recent seasons.

    Like that you made the point about Southhampton’s play as well. Suicidal it may have been in the long run, but I give them respect and props for coming at us and coming at us, instead of parking the proverbial bus. Had they scored again and made it 4-2, it might have been a different game. I hope they find a way to stay up.

    Also want to acknowledged a much- improved, more confident and poised Ramsey coming off the bench. Welcome back mate. Great link up for goal # 6.

    Finally, we should all bask in the glory of the best midfield in England. This truly is the stuff of champions. So happy…

  3. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Ssinderias

    Thanks from all us Gooners who are not in the stadium on matchdays. There is no other way to really get an idea of the atmosphere and spectator reactions. Thank you.
    And what a great match yesterday!

  4. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Tee Song

    Honestly, I was a little worried about this game. It had all the earmarks of an “upset special.” Southampton had already shown they can punish defensive mistakes and their attacking impulse was rewarded with two goals and taking the lead twice in each of their games against both Manchesters. Plus, with only a handful of internationals, they were well rested and able to work on tactics for an extra week. We, on the other hand, had the majority of our squad coming back from internationals. And this was the first game of seven in the next 22 days which happen to include two Champions League games and BPL games vs Manshitty and Chelski, making this game easy to overlook. So I think what impressed me the most was how we came out and played with intensity right from the start. Yes, it’s early in the season but how many times have we started games against “lesser” teams with less than 100% commitment?

    Player wise, obviously Cazorla was again impressive and Gervinho may have had his best game for us but two players I thought had very good games also were Gibbs and Coquelin. Kieran was a great attacking outlet all game and his raiding forays were rewarded with two “assists” to Own Goal. And defensively, he did well including standing strong a couple of times when Southampton tried to isolate him against Lambert for far post crosses. Le Coq simply stepped in seamlessly and kept the midfield purring, circulating the ball well and maintaining his defensive positioning. And in the second half, he had a couple of incisive passes from deep to set up some nice attacking moves.

    Nice report and always I always appreciate the first hand accounts.

  5. Vote -1 Vote +1Caribkid

    Once again, a welcome post and great feel of the live atmosphere which we foreign sycophants certainly miss :)

    Surprisingly, all the stat corners had us and Soton equal in possession whereas I thought we had a decided advantage in that area. Thought we were firmly in control of the game and never felt threatened at any time.

  6. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Yan

    Thank you Chary! Always great to read your accounts of the game. Aside from the already lauded players, I liked specially Jenkinson’s confidence. He’s almost getting the overlapping timing, which is no easy thing. We are so spoiled by Sagna’s perfection at it. Plus defensively he was superb.

    I don’t want to be a dick, but that clean sheet would’ve sent a big message out there. Too bad we couldn’t hold onto it.

  7. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Rhyle

    Good write up, Chary – great performance with the only downside being fewer teams coming to play football against us like Soton did!

  8. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

    Couple of thoughts on our line up.

    Slight shocker seeing Gervinho deployed up front and centre, who would have known he had a pair of decent shooting boots tucked away somewhere in an Ivory chest (albeit he could not possibly miss for the second surely!)

    Looks to me that we have a slight left wing bias at the moment. It seems that (rightly) we are taking advantage of our current natural strengths although obviously, Wenger unleashed the tricky Gervinho to maximum damage against Southampton through the middle with their naivete defense.

    Seems like we are lining up in a sort of fussball table system -


    Impressive indeed. Would think though that regardless of Walcott intent that we should consider how we could further bolster the effort out right which currently with Sagna still out is pacy but rather one dimensional (Jenkinson does a reasonable job covering no nonsense but still needs to develop sufficient nous going forward)

    Would like to see us add another winger with good craft out RW in Jan regardless of a Walcott decision (but maybe depending on it). A Konoplyanka or Affelay maybe.

    The other thing I was quite happy to see yesterday (team dynamincs and hugs score line apart) was Ramsey adding some grit and bite to his play when he came on.

    Quite obviously, he is a talent going forward but quiet obviously, he also realises the threat to his utility in midfield with Coquelin stepping up (I thought him tidy and discipline covering in tandem with Arteta, curbing his instincts to bomb forward). So good to see him add a bit of punch tackling which I believe has been lacking in his current game.

    A very satisfying start and good to see :

    1) Our defense (Szsc gaff apart) looking rock solid.

    2) Us adding variatio to our attack in employing the speed of Gervinho as an alternate to the physicality of Giroud (or the directness of Poldy…great work rate the German!). Me thinks we could though, still use another striker with speed either Jan or next summer.

    3)We again seem to have some teeth executing from set pieces where we have been lacking last couple of seasons.

  9. Vote -1 Vote +1GoonerAU

    Loved the match report Chary…

    One of my favourite non-goal events yesterday had to be Coquelin’s pass from the defence pretty much to the edge of the opposition box.

    He picked the ball up from Jenkinson, turned infield, and with it dragged the man marking him to cover the centre of the park, with a now clear lane Coquelin turned back towards the right side of the pitch and fired a cracking ball up field, that didn’t even bounce it was hit so perfectly, It took all but 2 Southhampton players out of the game as it picked up Gervinho prefiectly who had burned down the RW to meet it.

    Really excited me to see the ease with which he played that ball. Was brilliant.

  10. Vote -1 Vote +1charybdis1966

    Good point about Coquelin – he did the good stuff quietly and effectively.

    I see no one got my 2 Judas Priest song title references in the report.

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