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Arsenal 3-2 Southampton - A Tale of Two Unlikely Heroes Grab Gunners Win

It was a day for unlikely heroes, as a much-shuffled Arsenal took the points in an entertaining encounter against Southampton at The Emirates.This Premiership match saw two players who normally reside in a marginal role for Arsenal, rise to the fore like a glorious phoenix, as Danny Welbeck and Alex Iwobi were the men who earned us the points after twice being pulled back by Mark Hughes’ team.Arsene Wenger opted for a much-changed side, and gave young Reiss Nelson his Premier League debut in attack, alongside Danny Welbeck, Alex Iwobi and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Our midfield saw Aaron Ramsey rested as Mohamed Elneny came into the team, and Laurent Koscielny was also given a breather as Calum Chambers faced his former side. The start of the game saw a gameplan emerge from the away side, as Shane Long, surprisingly given the nod ahead of Charlie Austin and Manolo Gabbiadini, ran our backline ragged with his neverending chasing down. It gave our defenders very little time and also allowed Saints to push up their midfield whenever we entered the middle third. It meant a really congested final third and it played into Southampton’s hands.We looked a little pedestrian at times, and while we had enough of the ball, we weren’t really doing anything with it, as Southampton had the first four shots on target. Cech was largely untroubled, but it wasn’t surprising when they broke the deadlock.Tadic and Cedric joined forces and a ball came into the box that was aimed for Long. The Irishman took advantage of some calamitous defending from both Cech and Mustafi to slot home ahead of the German. It was a moment of bad communication and it cost us.It did however, seem to wake us, as is often the case with our performances. We started to zip the ball around a bit quicker and move a little more, and within 11 minutes we were level - and it came from a reliable source.A lovely move ended with Danny Welbeck backheeling the ball into an onrushing Aubameyang’s path. It was a delicious assist and the Gabon man toepoked home. Aubameyang’s instinct was another reason why we had equalised, as he had started to run into the box before Welbeck had even made the pass.It made six goals in eight games for our newest striker, but Southampton were still at the races and sticking to their guns. It was a good thing that we have bigger guns.Nine minutes after our equaliser, we had our second, and the lead. Alex Iwobi fed Welbeck, who cut in directly and let fly from just outside the box. His effort took a deflection off of Maya Yoshida, and the ball spun a little higher than it would’ve without the Japanese defender’s intervention. It sailed over Alex McCarthy in the Saints goal and we were a goal up.The game was starting to open up for both sides, and Chambers almost gave us a third, but when the half time whistle blew, on the face of things, we had just about edged it, although it was as close as the scoreline suggests.The second half saw us come out strongly, seemingly to put the game to bed. McCarthy was tested first by Aubameyang and then Xhaka as we took the game to a startled Saints side, and passed around their press. We still had to be cautious - especially given that Mike Dean was officiating - but it was our team who had the next chance on the 53rd minute, Aubameyang again testing McCarthy, who tipped behind.Just a couple of minutes later, we nearly conceded as we switched off on a corner delivered by James Ward-Prowse, and Wesley Hoedt met it with a header that was cleared off the line by Mohamed Elneny. Then Shane Long thought he had equalised and bagged his second, only for it to be ruled correctly out for offside. Reiss Nelson had been lively, but his afternoon ended around the 65th minute mark as he was replaced by Jack Wilshere - the Englishman will be extra decisive now that Henrikh Mkhitaryan is ruled out. Saints also made a change, and it was decisive, as Charlie Austin came on for Maya Yoshida as Hughes went for broke. It paid off instantly.A neat combo ended with a low ball across the face of our six yard box that Austin was on hand to bundle home. It was classic Arsenal as were beginning to look in control of the game, and we slipped our concentration for one minute. One minute too long.Not to worry though, as eight minutes later, we grabbed the lead straight back. The impressive Alex Iwobi, who hadn’t stopped all game, twisted and turned and eventually stood up a great ball to the back post that Welbeck met with a close range header that left McCarthy no chance.It was the 81st minute, but would we hold on? Tadic almost answered that emphatically with a volley that Cech did well to turn away, as Southampton started to fling men forward, but tempers then started to fray. Jack Stephens had been involved with words with Welbeck just earlier and on the 90th minute, Jack Wilshere tugged Stephens shirt and ripped it. Stephens took umbrage with this and shoved Wilshere to the floor, prompting Dean to send off the young defender, and book Jack.Then from the free-kick, Elneny decided to make a nuisance of himself, and the Saints players shoved the Egyptian, who responded in kind. Dean then got his red card out again to send our midfielder for an early bath. Time then ran out for Southampton, and we now have six wins in a row. We will have to start better, we will have to defend better, but we can be optimistic that we firstly have a strong squad that can fill in when our bigger players are left out, and we know how to face up to battles. Especially welcome to see was Iwobi and Welbeck showing they can make a difference.Let’s keep it up. Next up is the second leg in Moscow versus CSKA. #UTA