Arsenal went into the last four matches of the season needing to win out to even have a chance at the top four, and they took the first step today in a slowish meeting with Southampton on the channel coast. After a limp and scoreless first half, Alexis, who had been largely frustrating, took a feed from Mesut Özil, turned maginificently, feinted right, went left, and shot powerfully home to open the scoring. Southampton tried to come back into the match, but Olivier Giroud, who perhaps against the judgment of some dinguses on twitter had come on, nodded home a nice Ramsey cutback header to seal the deal for Arsenal.
As the table stands right now, Arsenal are three points off the top four with three matches left, but it might as well be four points due to a not-great goal difference. They will still need help from whoever plays Manchester City and Liverpool as the season wears down. [Side note: Manchester United, who went 25 unbeaten until Arsenal welcomed them on Sunday, are right back where they started—in 6th place, with a hilarious 14 draws on the season. 14!!!]
Here are some takeaways from today:
Alexis is very good, even if he is sometimes bad
There were four players who have scored 20 goals in a Premier League season in an Arsenal shirt (Ian Wright, Thierry Henry, Emmanuel Adebayor, Robin van Persie). Alexis become the fifth today with his goal. He is one of those players that will score while you’re still throwing your arms up in frustration at his latest ill-fated dribble or wayward pass; he is hilariously good at soccer, but also can be incredibly selfish and careless. Nonetheless, there you go: 20 goals in the league this year, some astonishing like today’s.
Let’s hope Ox isn’t done for the year
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had really started to make the right wingback position his own in recent weeks. Perhaps more than anyone, he benefited from Arsenal’s switch to the 3-4-3. Despite some bad crosses, he was playing well again today until the 35th minute, when his hamstring appeared to go. Hector Bellerin replaced him and played well also, but it’s a shame for Ox, as he was just starting to do his thing.
Here is a Hawkwind song
Look, this game was mostly not great. It was turgid. There weren’t many shots. So, in lieu of a third savvy point from me, here is a Hawkwind song. Thank you.