The only imperfection in an otherwise perfect outing for the Gunners was the display of Wojciech Szczesny who could not preserve a clean sheet. A minor detail it would appear but an irritating one nevertheless. The rest was quite stellar.
Arsene Wenger did not start any frontline striker opting to go for Podolski, Gervinho, and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain. In place of Abou Diaby, Frances Coquelin got his start. And Vito Mannone made way for Szczesny. It was on the front foot for the Gunners right from the start with Santi Cazorla ably backed up by Mikel Arteta as the two Spaniards began to run the show. Lovely touch football in the tightest of spaces as players interchanged positions fluidly and freely.
Dare we say it? In the four matches played so far Cazorla has shown himself to be a notch above Fabregas as a creator. He is so compact with the ball showing an incomparable ability to diagram plays and execute them with nary an extraneous pass. Podolski showed great tenacity and determination to claim the ball back and drive past defenders to feed Kieran Gibbs whose shot was turned into an own goal. His free kick was even better. Lacing the ball with plenty of power and movement to fool Kelvin Davis. Cazorla and Arteta linked up and the latter scooped the ball over to find Gervinho running hard and finishing superbly. The pair connected again a few minutes later as Cazorla put Gervinho through for the Cote D'Ivoirian to find Gibbs steaming from the left to slam his shot which once again deflected into goal.
A merry band of Gunners running riot over the hapless Saints and looking for more. However, the first half ended on a bit of a sour note as Szczesny could not hold onto a routine cross by Jason Puncheon and dropped the ball right in the doorstep of Danny Fox. The Polish goalie looked out of sorts with his goal kicks and throws proving nightmarish ventures. With the side playing solid and mistake free team defense, the last thing one needs is the last line looking shaky and conceding silly goals. You have to love the sight of the Gunners regrouping to run back in numbers and maintain that defensive shape. The Saints counterattack was going nowhere with all the gaps and players covered till Szczesny had that brain freeze.
The second half saw the Saints rustling up a bit more ambition pushing forward and seeing more of the ball. But the Gunners after a lull answered through Aaron Ramsey who had an excellent game. His first touch after receiving the ball from Cazorla was impeccable and set up a sequence of movements with his shot flicked through hitting the upright. Gervinho was at hand to clean up. Oliver Giroud came on and one thought his goal drought would end when Theo Walcott broke through with pace to created a two on one situation. But in a familiar routine, wisdom was jettisoned, and he decided to over elaborate allowing the defense to recover and then twisted and turned into a cul de sac. Walcott did get Arsenal's final goal when Cazorla dinked a rebound into the path of the former Saints player and he crashed the ball into the net. Muted celebrations followed. Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, the other Saint in the midst was a constant threat down the right and came close a couple of times to scoring a goal.
One note. Per Mertesacker. The tall, lanky German had a superb game. He often looks slow but makes up for it with great positional sense. Today, we saw an aggressive Mertesacker imposing himself on set pieces. Usually, it is Vermaelen who takes the lead.
With this result, we go to Montpellier to begin the CL campaign with a good head of steam. Then back to the league to face City and a far more severe test. The scoring seems to be coming by committee which is probably the best way to plug RVP's loss. However, we really don't need a goalkeeping controversy because the last time we had one, there were three choices. Worse, much worse, the worst.