Arsenal misses chance to go top in 4-0 rout by Southampton
Sunday 27 December, 2015 12:00:00 am
Southampton, Dec 27 (AP/UNB) — Title-chasing Arsenal was thrashed 4-0 by a Southampton side that had been on a five-game winless run in the Premier League on Saturday.
Another incredible result in this most unpredictable of English seasons prevented Arsenal going top, with Leicester remaining two points in front of the London club despite losing at Liverpool.
"It's down to consistency, to fight in every single game, and find the resources to produce a top-level performance in every single game," said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who is chasing a first league title since 2004. "Today was a very, very, very physical game and you could see this team, they tried for life, and when they scored the first goal you could see it was going to be a very difficult game."
Cuco Martina was the unlikely catalyst of Southampton's first win since Nov. 7, with the full-back marking his first league start with an exceptional half-volley with the outside of his boot from distance in the 19th minute.
"I got given my chance and I wanted to prove myself — that I could play," Martina said.
Offside calls against Steven Davis in the build-up to the opener were ignored, as was Laurent Koscielny's appeal for a foul in the build-up to Shane Long's close-range strike 10 minutes after halftime.
Jose Fonte's header more than an hour in, and Long's second goal in stoppage time added extra gloss to the scoreline on a night when Southampton's response to recent disappointments was as marked as Arsenal's collapse.
Southampton made four alterations for the visit of an Arsenal side that opened by the week by beating Manchester City. And Saints changed tack following last week's loss to Tottenham, starting at a slower, more methodical tempo as they looked to firm up at the back.
Southampton rose to 12th place, seven points clear of the relegation zone.
"We lost too many challenges, they were sharper than us, and we were a bit unlucky as well," Wenger said. "The first goal was the first shot on goal, and it found the top corner, and the second goal was a foul on Koscielny, but the ref didn't see it, and after that we were exposed on the counter-attack.
"It's a disappointing result, but you have to say well done Southampton. Many challenges we were second best, but the referee let a lot go as well, and when you are not dominant that's the kind of price you have to pay."