Southampton Player Ratings: Arsenal (A)
Southampton were dealt a cruel blow late on as Danny Welbeck helped Arsenal to a 3-2 win at the Emirates Stadium.
Mark Hughes made several changes following Saints’ 3-0 drubbing at the hands of West Ham last weekend and reverted to a system which consisted of three central defenders and three central midfielders.
Saints got off to a good start and some lackadaisical defending from Shkodran Mustafi gave Shane Long the chance to put the visitors ahead and he duly delivered.
Hughes’ men were not in the lead for long, though, as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang took advantage of some comical defending from Saints to equalise. Before half-time, it was two for the Gunners as Welbeck’s deflected effort beat Alex McCarthy at his near post.
Saints continued to probe the Arsenal defence and only moments after being introduced, Charlie Austin netted an equaliser for the visitors, levelling the scores as 2-2.
However, Arsenal took the spoils on the day as Welbeck took advantage of Saints’ inability to compete in the air to hand the Gunners a 3-2 win.
Jack Stephens was sent off late on for violent conduct, along with Mohamed Elneny who was given his marching orders for Arsenal.
On a disappointing afternoon for Saints, here are our player ratings.
Alex McCarthy - 6
Could have perhaps coped better with the first goal but made a number of decent saves. He was once again let down by Saints’ defenders.
Cedric Soares - 4
Pretty terrible again, which is bizarre to say given that he set up both goals for Saints. He was a decent enough attacking outlet but he was nothing short of pathetic defensively. Cedric left a lot of space vacated on several occasions throughout the match and Saints were made to pay.
Jack Stephens - 3
Stephens and Cedric on the same side is a disaster waiting to happen. He didn’t have a good day at the Emirates at all. Stephens was weak in the air, unable to take control at the back and struggled once again.
To top it all off, he whacked Jack Wilshere at the end after the England international ripped half of his shirt off. It was clearly a foul and clearly a frustrating afternoon, but you cannot act with such petulance. Stephens is a 24-year-old Premier League central defender and he lashed out like a child. It was embarrassing to watch.
In our predicament, with six Premier League games remaining, his actions were totally brainless. He lost his head and he needs to grow up.
Maya Yoshida - 5
It was good to see Yoshida recalled to the side but he, too, didn’t have a great game. He turned his back for Welbeck’s first and after insisting that he’s willing to fight for the cause, that lack of bravery isn’t encouraging.
Wesley Hoedt - 4
Hoedt tried hard today but just seems like a liability. He’s not at all dominant, his passing is wayward and he’s gone backwards since the start of the season.
Ryan Bertrand - 4
Bertrand was typically slow to get back for Saints and didn’t have a very good game defensively. It’s just a bit baffling that he’s the team’s captain; he simply doesn’t look like he cares.
James Ward-Prowse - 5
Worked very hard and tried to put in testing balls towards the Arsenal defence but was ultimately ineffective on the day.
Oriol Romeu - 5
A rather subdued game for Romeu. Gave away a couple of silly fouls but wasn’t bad on his first game back. He needs to be more efficient in possession but Saints looked less open in the middle with him in the side.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg - 5
Hojbjerg turned in a gritty and determined display but much like his fellow midfielders, he couldn’t exactly influence the game. It’s good to see him getting a run of games.
Dusan Tadic - 3
Tadic actually had a few nice touches in the first half but totally bottled a clear opportunity in front of goal by pulling out of a challenge, so normal service was resumed.
It’s pretty amazing that Mark Hughes kept the faith in him after his absolutely abject display at West Ham. He doesn’t deserve to start matches for us and especially not in our time of need.
Shane Long - 6
Worked typically hard and showed good instincts to find the position to net Saints’ first. He leaves a lot to be desired technically but his work rate was second to none against Arsenal. He was very quiet in the second half but will be pleased with his efforts.
The game plan in the first half largely revolved around long balls in behind Arsenal’s defenders in the hope that Long would latch on to one every so often. I feel for any striker playing with that kind of service.
Charlie Austin – 7: It’s really not a surprise that he was given one sniff at goal and he took full advantage. He’s a crucial player and has to start games.
Josh Sims – 6: Constantly pressed and worked hard for the team but lacked the cutting edge to test Arsenal.