Southampton 4 Arsenal 0
( Martina 19, Long 55, 90 Fonte 69 )

Arsenal were humiliated on the south coast with a 4-0 thrashing which no one save maybe for the most myopic of Southampton fan could have seen coming. When you are challenging for the Premier League title, the crucial festive season fixtures come thick and fast with little or no respite. Having beaten Manchester City going into the Christmas period, the Gunners undid all their hard work from that 2-1 win at the Emirates stadium last Monday with a performance which suggested many of Arsene Wenger’s players didn’t seem to fancy the challenges at St Mary’s. Facing a Saints side who hadn’t won in their last five games and with only one point to show for it, the home side struck with four unanswered goals, and combined with an element of fortune, ran out worthy winners.

Wenger named an unchanged line up for the fourth game running, but Arsenal found themselves on the back foot almost from the off. Saido Mane’s free role was causing havoc against an Arsenal side whose defence was struggling to cope. Francis Coquelin won’t be back for several weeks, and his defensive absence would inevitably be found out, as it was here.

When Ryan Bertrand’s cross from the left was headed clear by Per Mertersacker, there seemed to be little danger. That was until Cuco Martina making his first Premier League start let fly with the outside of his right boot from a full 25 yards. The ball was destined to go wide of Petr Cech’s upright, but a wicked in swing caught Cech diving at full stretch, but with two Saints players in offside positions, the ball had already gone past the Arsenal keeper for the opener.

Under blustery conditions and on a heavy pitch, Mertersacker wasn’t enjoying the evening and almost got found out when Shane Long’s strong approach lead to another Saints goal with his back heel. The foul on the German however had already been awarded. Mesut Özil and Aaron Ramsey tried to get things going, and from Özil’s corner, Theo Walcott found himself unmarked with a header which he could only steer into the side netting.

Southampton should have doubled their first half lead when Mane’s lobbed pass fell right for Long. Having outpaced the retreating Mertersacker and with only Cech in front of him, the Irishman lobbed the ball over the bar. Mathieu Flamini was finding the tracking of Mane not to his liking. From a Mane free kick, Virgil van Dijk headed past Cech, but he was ruled offside. The Gunners were struggling and that struggle would soon get tougher.

Long seemed to trip Lauernt Koscielny as the ball fell out to Mane. With the France defender on the ground, Long had a clear run onto Mane’s cross for the simplest of tap -ins. Arsenal should have been awarded a free kick, but we’re now two goals down.

The Koscielny – Long battle again got the better of the Arsenal defender, but once again Long had luck on his side. His was the last touch as the ball went out of play, but the Saints were awarded a corner. Bertrand’s corner was met powerfully by Jose Fonte with Cech floundering at the ball and a disbelieving 3-0 scoreline.

From Nacho Monreal’s cross, Özil saw an effort trickle along Stekelenburg’s line, but this was poor offerings as Arsenal faded. The home side got a fourth goal when Dusan Tadic played in Long. Once again he had the beating of Mertersacker and Cech for a fourth goal to complete a miserable day for the Gunners.