Arsenal 2 Southampton 0
Giroud 22, 86,(pen)

Olivier Giroud grabbed a deserved double that not only sunk Southampton, but also kept Arsenal at the Premiership summit, and now four points clear of second placed Liverpool. Had they won themselves, Southampton would have been top of the pile, but with Artur Boruc in such early erratic form, that was never likely. Having received Nathaniel Clyne’s back pass, Boruc had time to clear the ball away. For reasons better known to himself, the Polish keeper chose to try to play his way past the menacing Giroud. Under pressure from the France striker however, Boruc lost control of the ball and Giroud struck the ball into the unguarded net. Inevitably as it would seem, it was Giroud who struck from the penalty spot four minutes before time, to double the Gunners’ lead, the penalty awarded when Jose Fonte’s impeded Per Mertersacker.

The win gives Arsenal their fifth consecutive home win for the first time since April 2012, and just as importantly, puts the winning momentum back on track. The Gunners were also back to scoring ways having not netted in the loss at Old Trafford before the international break, the only Premiership game in which Arsenal have not scored. Crucially for the multinational Arsenal side, France qualifying for the 2014 World Cup will have lifted the likes of Bacary, Laurent Koscielny and of course Giroud.

The Arsenal striker was immense in another show of strength and determination for his side, which was to reward him personally and his team mates collectively, against a Saints side who were physically up for the fight.

Arsenal were unfortunate not to take the lead through Jack Wilshere after ten minutes. Aaron Ramsey battled to win the ball and fed Wilshere on the right. The England man’s drive to the line seemed be losing space, until with his less favoured right foot, Wilshere conjured up a gem of a chip which sailed over Boruc, but then agonisingly came back off the post into the grateful arms of the Polish stopper.

Boruc would again count his lucky stars five minutes later. This time Mesut Özil’s cross crafted an instinctive flick from Ramsey, but again Southampton would breath another sigh of relief after the ball came off Boruc’s upright and away for a goal kick.

For all their possession, Arsenal were being stifled by the muscular efforts of Victor Wanyama in particular, although one challenge on Wilshere seemed to be the just the wrong side of legal according to the roar from the Emirates faithful. Referee Mark Clattenburg however waved play on.

After Boruc’s howler gifted Giroud his ninth goal of the season, Southampton feeling a sense of being let down created their first meaningful effort though Adam Lallana, a shot to which Szczesny clipped over his bar.

With Mathieu Flamini serving his one game ban for amassing five yellow cards, Mikel Arteta was tasked alongside Ramsey in midfield. The Saints continued with their high tempo physical game, and Lallana once again asked questions of the Gunners defence, with Szczesny producing a fine low save. From an offside position, Rickie Lambert struck wide.

Özil is getting a true sense of the Premiership, and what it is to turn up for every game. The German midfielder was willing all afternoon and should have been rewarded after 63 minutes, but saw Boruc hold his powerful effort.

With 20 minutes remaining, and to shouts of “Theo, Theo,” Arsene Wenger took off the excellent Santi Cazorla replacing him with Theo Walcott for his first taste of first team action since September’s 18th Champions League win at Marseille. The Arsenal number 14 saw an effort go wide of Boruc’s goal.

Four minutes before time, Mertersacker was held by Fonte as he went to head from a corner. A penalty was awarded and Giroud sent Boruc the wrong way from the spot for his tenth goal of the season.

Three points won under testing circumstances will have pleased Wenger, as will the sight of the Gunners still top of the Premier League.