Arsenal recorded a dominant 3-0 home win over an uninspiring Southampton in Saturday’s Premier League clash.
Mikel Arteta dropped Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from his squad on Saturday due to a “disciplinary breach”, but Alexandre Lacazette stepped up to open the scoring before Martin Odegaard added a second in the first half.
Gabriel netted a third after the break before Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka were each denied by the woodwork, with Southampton long since having given up on ending a winless run away at Arsenal that extends to 27 league matches.
Saints are five without a win and just six points above the relegation zone, but victory moved Arsenal within a point of fourth-placed West Ham.
Although Aaron Ramsdale denied Adam Armstrong and James Ward-Prowse as Arsenal started tentatively, they were soon ahead after a lovely passage of play was capped off by Lacazette finding the top-right corner following Saka’s cutback.
And it was two just six minutes later as Odegaard reacted fastest to Kieran Tierney’s looping header and sneaked in to nod past Willy Caballero – the Norway international’s third goal in as many games.
Odegaard looked to double his account after the interval but whipped over, while Nathan Tella forced another smart stop from Ramsdale.
Gabriel, who was earlier denied a goal for offside, then towered above Caballero to head home from Martinelli’s corner, before the 20-year-old and Saka were thwarted by either post.
Nathan Redmond and Tella responded by inducing a further two saves from Ramsdale, but it was too little too late as the hosts cruised to a comfortable victory.
What does it mean? Arsenal respond well at home
Arteta’s team succumbed to defeat on the road against both Manchester United and Everton but responded emphatically against Southampton and have now won three league home games in a row without conceding for the first time since October 2017
Southampton, who badly need results over the festive period, have still never won a Premier League away game against the Gunners, their 23-match barren run away to one opponent the longest in the competition’s history.
Saka was once again a shining figure for Arsenal as he repeatedly tormented Kyle Walker-Peters down the right-hand side.
The England international created three chances – including the opener – and has now assisted 22 Arsenal goals in all competitions since the start of the 2019-20 campaign, four more than any other player.
Saints subpar again
Southampton are going through a goalkeeper crisis, with both Alex McCarthy and Fraser Forster injured, and were forced to call upon 40-year-old Caballero, signed to a one-month contract.
However, that does not excuse the fact they have now conceded 50 Premier League away goals in 2021, becoming the first side to do so in the top flight since both Watford and West Brom in 1985.
Arsenal host fellow European challengers West Ham on Wednesday, while Southampton travel to Crystal Palace on the same day.