Assessing Arsenal: Ramsey like Zidane again? Arteta anonymous & more

Olivier Giroud

Arsenal re-established a commanding lead at the head of the Premier League table thanks to a 2-0 win over Southampton. Here we rate the players…

Wojtech Szczesny - 8 - He stopped a dipping Adam Lallana effort on half hour mark, denied Jay Rodriguez's acrobatic volley before half-time and blocked Rickie Lambert late in second half to keep his sheet clean.

Bacary Sagna - 7 - The Frenchman's crossing when he ventured forward was threatening. And the stamina that is required to produce the work he does is awe-inspiring… he was effectively a flank-bound box-to-boxer as, just over a quarter of his pitch-time focus was dedicated in the final quarter, from 30 yards on, highlighting Arsenal often focused their attacks through the right channel in order to utilise the link between Sagna and Mesut Ozil.

Laurent Koscielny - 7 - He was initially confounded by the energy and work-rate exhibited by the Saints attack which pinned Wenger's defence almost in their own penalty box during the initial jousting, as demonstrated by Rodriguez who forced Laurent to relinquish possession on multiple occasions, however, he grew in defensive stature as the game progressed.

Per Mertesacker - 8 - When faced with a terrier attacker, he simply dragged the ball back with a technically-adept midfielder's execution to calmly retain possession. He also won the penalty that sealed the Saints' fate.

Kieran Gibbs - 6 - Unlike Sagna, Gibbs was not afforded as much liberty going forward as most of his work focused on defensive duty as the Saints utilised that zone for their attacks.

Mikel Arteta - 5 - He squandered his set-piece distribution and overall had a difficult first half. He was also largely anonymous and failed to truly establish himself.

Jack Wilshere - 7 - Failed to properly assert himself against Victor Wanyama after almost scoring with a genius lob in the opening 45. The young buck is beginning to find full fitness and proper form, though, and is surely a matter of match-days away from his best as he showed good promise and fine ball control.

Aaron Ramsey - 8 - His one-touch back-heel attempt at goal following a key chance set-up by Ozil shows the extent of his current confidence. A few weeks ago, Alan Hansen claimed the Welshman had Zidane touches in his locker and that effort was truly Zizou.

Mesut Ozil - 7 - linked well with his team, particularly with Ramsey in the early stages of opening half, then Giroud before the break but, considering how well he started his season in England, why has he lulled of late?

Santi Cazorla - 6 - At times anonymous and off-pace but capable of competent crossing. His second half performance was much better than his first, although he was playing more where he was comfortable - offensive, rather than defensive.

Olivier Giroud - 9 - Giroud took advantage of an unforced error when Artur Boruc was too hesitant to put his laces through the ball resulting in a hounding, harassing Olivier capitalising, mugging him of the ball then stroking the leather home for Arsenal's first. His defensive prowess, often an unheralded attribute of this striker, was on show with his winning headers in the home side's box, as well as his dispossessing by the corner flag. Doubled his lead five mins from time to convert the penalty won by Per. Went for a hail Mary shot from about 40 yards that was absolutely woeful but… why not? He had already got two.

Theo Walcott came on for Cazorla after 70 minutes, Arteta made away for Tomas Rosicky four mins later then Nacho Monreal replaced Ozil at 81.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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