Southampton 0 Arsenal 2
Alexis, 60 Giroud, 83

Arsenal are looking like they actually mean business at the business end of the season. With a fourth place finish however no longer in their control it is a shame that the Gunners hadn’t taken care of business much earlier in the season as they did here against Southampton. Second half goals from Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud ensured the Gunners won for the fourth time in six games. The win sees Arsenal move up to fifth place, on sixty six points, a point behind fourth placed Manchester City on the same number of games played, and four behind third place Liverpool, but with a game in hand over the Reds. A fourth place finish is crucial for Arsenal in their pursuit of consecutive Champions League football under Arsene Wenger and just as vital, in keeping Alexis. The Chile striker has that sprinkle of gold dust which sets him apart from other players, and he was the instigator of Arsenal’s latest win.

A rather forgetful first 45 minutes and fears of the Saints doing another frustration job as they pulled off at Anfield at the weekend would have been a worst case scenario for Arsene Wenger’s side. Manolo Gabbiadini has been a real danger an for the Saints and he made Petr Cech make a fine first half save. Maybe the enormity of the task they face and its significance could have affected the Gunners who failed to fire in the first half. Passes and passion were largely missing, but that would change fifteen minuets into the second half.

From Mesut Özil’s pass, the quick thinking and quick movement of the Chile striker took two Saints players Maya Yoshida and Jack Stephens out of the equation to create space for him to coolly slot home the game’s opener. That seemed to relax the visitors, who then began to play with more belief and added a late second goal when substitute Olivier Giroud headed in Aaron Ramsey’s cross after 83 minutes.

The only negative was the sight of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain having to come off with what looked like a hamstring injury after 36 minutes. Hector Bellerin saw more game time then he perhaps would have as a wing back.

Alexis’s strike was his 20th of the season, and makes him only the fifth Arsenal player to reach that mark, joining the elite company of Ian Wright, Thierry Henry, Emmanuel Adebayor and Robin van Persie. Adding more weight to his season, it was his 14th away goal of the season, currently the most of any player in the Premier League.

Wenger noted that this Alexis goal is what he is all about.

“I think the goal that he has scored tonight showed what he is about. Very good technique in a short space, he scores important goals. And with very short technique he has invention in his head.

” He’s creative because he’s not fazed by anything and he’s surprised everybody in the stadium tonight by what he did. They expected him to take a shot and he is very quick, so overall he has done extremely well.”

Wenger was also pleased with Giroud’s strike having come on for the last ten minutes to replace Danny Welbeck.

“I would say as well, Giroud came on and again the second goal was a very important goal for us tonight.”
A second win in four days has given us renewed hope of securing a place in the top four, with a visit to Stoke City now the focus for the Gunners.

” I never questioned the character of my side,” Wenger added. “It’s not because you lose games that people expect you to win that you have no character.

“But it happened to us. We went through a bad patch, I believe that’s a good opportunity to show your character, how you come back and how you recover. Maybe the Man City game gave us confidence a little bit.

“Let’s not go too quickly to conclusions and focus and give everything on Saturday.”