Southampton’s defeat to Arsenal at the Emirates showed desire and a fighting spirit to overturn a period of inconsistency and there were plus points to be had but if anyone thinking that Arsenal are returning to form, may need to hold on to that thought until after the encounters with Spurs and Manchester United.
The brightest spot was the performance of Sead Kolasinac which showed a player intent on shaping events and leading the charge.
His form is the best it’s been in an Arsenal shirt and was equally powerful and determined.
When Arsenal were faced with a sizeable banana skin in the shape of Southampton, Kolasinac served as a reminder that a player can apply himself and have an impact on the game in a positive fashion.
In fact, I’d go as far to say that Kolasinac is proving himself to such a degree that Unai Emery’s rotational policy should apply to others and not to him at s crucial stage of the season.
Yes, there is still work to do in terms of his defensive awareness and positioning but that could be said of the entire backline.
However, going forward, he is irresistible on this form.
Probing, prodding, asking questions and willing to get his hands dirty, Arsenal need more of this to be able to secure the 4th place slot.
I’m starting to refer to this as ‘The Guendouzi factor’ which is an appetite and competitive spirit that almost wills results and provides a platform for a win.
The French youngster has grown this season and it’s that passion, which was evident in Kolasinac’s display.
Other positives saw Mkhitaryan beginning to silence the doubters, Iwobi’s emergence as a threat and Lacazette’s tireless, lion like approach to his job.
The nerves in the Emirates crowd were tangible and were made no better by the sudden gap that appeared in defence that allowed Nathan Redmond to slice through on goal early on.
Had he been more focused, more astute and less surprised, it would have been a goal but he cut wide as Leno and Sokratis combined to limit the angle and the chance disappeared.
Unlike the last meeting, Southampton looked like a side in a relegation battle, unsure, lacking confidence and poise.
They had chances but Arsenal managed to deal with them and with Leno in goal, they have a talented keeper that is worth another imaginary defender.
Directly after that Lacazette nudged the gunners in front with a cheeky and opportunistic flick.
He was involved in the buildup, passing to Iwobi on the left, the ball came into the box as Torreira went to ground.
The ball then found Mkhitaryan who thumped the ball forward and the Frenchman flicked the ball into the net.
Southampton continued to push and Armstrong had a good opportunity to head them level but the ball struck Kolasinac.
Minutes later, Armstrong fed Targett out on the left, who fired in a magnificent shot from which Leno made a comfortable save.
From this, one can deduce that Southampton are going have a frantic few months ahead, where they slug it out with Cardiff for that last relegation slot.
Lacazette then applied the panic, harassing the Saints defender, who rashly passed back to his keeper.
The keeper pumped the ball to Iwobi, who found Mkhitaryan in acres of space which was struck firmly into the net.
The Armenian isn’t appreciated enough in my opinion and is ready to become a key ingredient to Arsenal’s cause since his return from injury.
In the process, he is showing exactly why Wenger thought he was worth the effort in the Sanchez swap deal.
Xhaka, who had been quite solid all afternoon, then provided Southampton with a great opportunity, when he clumsily popped the ball into the path of Ward-Prowse, but Leno came to the rescue.
Then late on Matt Targett was on target but again the German leapt across his goal to deny the Saints a consolation goal.
In between, Lacazette could have added two to his tally but he missed an absolute sitter from three or four yards out.
He appeared to pause, like a scientist running through his equations, wondering how it went over and not under the bar.
Aubameyang on his introduction, nearly provoked Southampton into a calamitous own goal when trying to find Kolasinac and as time went on Southampton realised that effort without an end product was going to cost them dearly.
Arsenal will have to stay focused and be less inclined to give teams chances, especially those that can take them.
As for Southampton, they have to start finding the net and scrambling the points because time is running out.
Their early resurgence has faded and the fight begins to stay in the top flight but possibly without the tools to do it.