Arsenal 1 Southampton 0
( Sanchez 89 )

Arsenal left it late to grab the winner in a well matched encounter against Southampton at the Emirates stadium, and one which was ultimately to be settled by Alexis Sanchez’s 89th minute goal, a strike which takes the forward to his 14th Arsenal goal of the season. The back to back Premier League win, and coupled with the Champions League win over Borussia Dortmund has given Arsene Wenger’s side the foundations from which to get an upward momentum going and push on from these victories. A tough Premier League win at the Hawthorns was followed by an equally tough opponent in Southampton who reminded us of their genuine belief and desire, with Fraser Forster especially the reason why the Gunners were only able to score a single goal.

The England ‘ keeper denied Danny Welbeck twice, substitute Olivier Giroud twice, but he was powerless to deny Arsenal’s mercurial Chile striker. Graziano Pelle blasted wide having worked a clever first half opening, but Emiliano Martinez was able to keep back to back clean sheets.

Compact and quick on the break, the Saints well drilled game plan was denying the Gunners both space and time on the ball. However as early as the seventh minute, Santi Cazorla’s defence splitting pass to Welbeck should have seen the game’s opening goal. However, with only Forster ahead of him and narrowing the angle, the England marksman was wide of the target.

Southampton could have taken the lead themselves when Pelle exchanged quick passes with Jack Cork but the Italian blasted high and wide with only an exposed Martinez in front of him.

Just shy of the half hour mark, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain read a superb Sanchez reverse pass but fired his shot too close to Forster who held on. When Toby Alderweired fumbled in his area, Welbeck was alert to the chance, and produced a back heel which went just wide of Forster’s upright. Pelle replied with a powerful run and shot which took a deflection, before Martnez held a minute before the break.

Barely a minute after the restart and Forster denied Welbeck’s header again, this time from a Cazorla free kick. Both sides showed excellent defensive capabilities. Nathaniel Clyne did well to track back when Sanchez threatened and put in a quality block to thwart another Arsenal foray. Laurent Koscielny did likewise when defending a corner as Pelle unleashed a power drive, which the Gunners’ defender manfully blocked.

Arsenal surged forward at will, but were met with a well drilled Southampton line who were quick on the counter. Shane Long hit high after one such break, and a warning sign had now been delivered to the Gunners. Still they attacked in numbers. After 65 minutes, Wenger replaced Oxlade-Chamberlain by Giroud and the dynamic of the Arsenal front line was infused with a new determination and belief. The France striker thundered a shot which Forster could only parry after 69 minutes, and a minute later, Forster was at it again, to one handedly deny Welbeck’s header from Sanchez’s cross, with the follow up from Giroud blocked by Jose Fonte for a corner. The momentum was building but the Saints were holding on. Forster again denied Giroud’s header, but a minute before normal time, Arsenal broke the deadlock to take the lead.

Giroud’s flick up and shot attempt hit his marking defender on the hand, but referee Andre Marriner ruled no penalty. The ball found reached Ramsey on the right and his cross fell just perfect for Sanchez to strike home from eight yards. Suddenly but very belatedly, Arsenal were a side transformed. Victor Wanyama dailied on the ball and was dispossessed deep in his half, by the dual efforts of Giroud and Ransey to create a chance for the latter which Forster saved for a corner. Moments later, substitute Lukas Podolski flashed wide from a narrow angle as Arsenal finished the stronger and the beneficiaries of another three Premier League points.

Arsenal’s new mini winning streak will next be tested when they face Stoke at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday.