However, the Gunners were able to triumph Ralph Hassenhutl’s men after some impressive performances put in by Arsenal’s youngsters and record signing Nicolas Pepe.
Mikel Arteta made five changes to his starting eleven including the introduction of Thomas Partey and Bukayo Saka and that seemed to have worked the trick for the Gunners.
Here we look at three reasons why Arsenal were able to beat Southampton:
Nicolas Pepe: Arsenal’s recording signing finally arrived and he arrived in style for the Gunners. With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang unavailable due to personal reasons, Mikel Arteta had a choice to make for his replacement. While many were expecting Gabriel Martinelli to start in place of the club captain, it was Ivorian instead who got the nod ahead and finally seemed to have justified his decision.
Pepe scored a goal and put in a shift defensively throughout the match playing from the opposing flank than his natural right flank. While he was at fault for Stuart Armstrong’s goal though he recovered after his early error and was defensively competent throughout.
The pivot: Arsenal’s midfield pivot of Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka was able to not only deal with Southampton’s intense press but also start counter-attack after being able to play their way out of press which was key to many of Arsenal’s goals.
Defense: Arsenal intentionally kept a high line to squeeze the spaces for Southampton and in turn assisting their midfielders in closing down Southampton’s quick passing moves. It was not an easy job to hold a high line against Southampton’s quick forwards but the defensive duo of Rob Holding and David Luiz did the job well.