Premier League

Southampton 1-0 Arsenal: Player ratings as frustrated Gunners lose again

Grey Whitebloom
Jan Bednarek (right) and Armando Broja celebrate the game's only goal in Southampton's 1-0 win over Arsenal
Jan Bednarek (right) and Armando Broja celebrate the game's only goal in Southampton's 1-0 win over Arsenal / Robin Jones/GettyImages
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The heroics of goalkeeper Fraser Forster earned Southampton a narrow 1-0 win over a frustrated Arsenal at St Mary's.

Jan Bednarek was the unlikely match winner for Ralph Hasenhuttl's side, thumping home after Mohamed Elyounoussi had recycled the ball back into the penalty area after a Southampton set-piece.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta had said before the game that both sides were 'hurting' and they gave a swift example of the lack of confidence plaguing both squads just after a quarter of an hour.

Arsenal's incoming striker Eddie Nketiah leapt upon Jan Valery's limp, lateral roll, shuffling the ball for Gabriel Martinelli to find Bukayo Saka in front of goal. With an almost entirely unguarded net to aim at, Saka's timid, weak-footed prod was dramatically tipped away by Forster.

In the penultimate minute of a lifeless first half, during which the visitors had lashings of possession but little penetration, Bednarek thumped Southampton in front. Catching Arsenal's defence out of shape from the second phase of a corner, Norwegian midfielder Elyounoussi hooked the ball back from the byline, into the path of his centre-back, who was still up after the set piece.

With a lead to sit on, Southampton sunk deeper into a 5-4-1 off the ball that thoroughly frustrated an Arsenal side now with two goals in their last five games.

In an attempt to unbalance their hosts, Arteta shuffled his side into a back-three, bringing on attacking midfielder Emile Smith-Rowe for defender Cedric Soares in the final half-hour. Smith-Rowe was presented with the best chance of the second half but his mis-hit volley was clawed off the goal line by the inspired Forster 73 minutes in.

With an ever-swelling monopoly of possession, Arsenal racked up the attempts but were blunted by Forster on the rare occasion they had an unobstructed view of goal.


Southampton vs Arsenal player ratings

1. Southampton (3-4-3)

Romain Perraud, Martin Odegaard
Romain Perraud made his first Premier League start in a month on Saturday / Mike Hewitt/GettyImages

GK: Fraser Forster - 9/10 - Almost topped his contender for save of the season with a pair of brilliant stops after the break.

RWB: Kyle Walker-Peters - 7/10 - Stuck to his defensive task with admirable discipline, even if it was at the cost of his attacking threat.

RCB: Yan Valery - 5/10 - Let right off the hook in the first half with an error that wasn't punished but did appear to quell the front-foot approach he started the game with.

CB: Lyanco - 5/10 - Rash and hasty when called into any one-on-one defending, Southampton's well-stocked defensive rearguard did its best to limit those worrying moments.

LCB: Jan Bednarek - 7/10 - Given more licence to jump out of the backline as a wide centre-back in a three-man defence. Bednarek showed he was more of a threat in the box rather than the one launching (not so) long throws.

LWB: Romain Perraud - 7/10 - Rarely afforded his opposite winger more than half a stride of space away from him.

RM: Stuart Armstrong - 6/10 - Drifted infield, almost like a number ten alongside Elyounoussi when Southampton had possession.

CM: Oriol Romeu - 7/10 - Scuttled around the pitch with typical endeavour and a clear desire to snuff out any slight gaps in Southampton's narrow shape.

CM: James Ward-Prowse - 6/10 - While his set-piece deliveries may not have landed the telling blow, the chaos they caused in the seconds immediately following ultimately broke the game open.

LM: Mohamed Elyounoussi - 7/10 - After a sly flick of his gaze towards the box, Elyounoussi controlled his cutback for the game's opening goal superbly.

ST: Armando Broja - 6/10 - Without his usual striker partner to bounce off, Broja covered a prodigious amount of ground in a bid to sniff out a chance for himself.

SUB: Shane Long (74' for Broja) - 5/10 - Unable to really affect the game.

SUB: Nathan Redmond (82' for Armstrong) - N/A

SUB: Tino Livramento (90+2' for Elyounoussi) - N/A


2. Arsenal (4-2-3-1)

FBL-ENG-PR-SOUTHAMPTON-ARSENAL
Eddie Nketiah filled in for the unwell Alexandre Lacazette against Southampton / DANIEL LEAL/GettyImages

GK: Aaron Ramsdale - 5/10 - May have gotten a lot of contact on Bednarek's opener but can hardly be blamed given the pace and short-range nature of the strike.

RB: Cedric Soares - 4/10 - Up against his former employers, the St Mary's crowd delighted in his hopeless set piece deliveries before making way within an hour.

RCB: Ben White - 5/10 - Not overly convincing when sucked into a physical duel with the burly Broja.

LCB: Gabriel - 6/10 - Intermittently picked out a pass to a teammate between the lines before witnessing some invariably tame play ahead of him.

LB: Nuno Tavares - 5/10 - Only showed brief flickers of the dynamism he can provide given the lack of space ahead of him.

CM: Albert Sambi Lokonga - 4/10 - Too often timid in his distribution, there weren't many surges from Southampton for the defensive midfielder to snuff out.

CM: Granit Xhaka - 5/10 - Remarkably unfazed by repeatedly giving the ball away, Xhaka took that iron-clad confidence into the backline for the second-half rejig.

AM: Martin Odegaard - 5/10 - Arsenal's stand-in captain let much of the game pass him by before finishing with a bright flurry that came too little too late.

RW: Gabriel Martinelli - 5/10 - Regularly frustrated by Perraud, Martinelli faded as the shadows grew longer.

ST: Eddie Nketiah - 6/10 - Delivered a convincing tribute act to the absent Alexandre Lacazette, peppering the game with some nice link play but often turned down the chance to go for goal himself.

LW: Bukayo Saka - 5/10 - Surprisingly started on the left flank before returning to his natural and considerably more comfortable wing in the second half but couldn't make up for that horror squander.

SUB: Emile Smith-Rowe (60' for Cedric) - 5/10 - Had one of the game's clearest sights of goal but the poor connection he regularly makes with goal-scoring strikes gave Forster the chance to make his save on Saturday.

SUB: Nicolas Pepe (70' for Tavares) - 5/10 - Given 20 minutes to turn things around, Arsenal's record signing failed to deliver.

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