Arsenal verdict: Theo Walcott showed it was Gunners who are going backwards since he left Emirates and not him
IT was Theo Walcott who was supposed to be going backwards when he left Arsenal in 2018.
But in December four years ago, Walcott scored for the Gunners in a 3-1 win over Stoke to take them top of the Premier League – a position they have never regained.
It says a lot about what’s happened since at the Emirates – and let’s be fair, at St Marys – that Southampton will be disappointed not to have climbed to the summit again, even for a couple of hours, after the on-loan forward gave them the lead.
And that Mikel Arteta will be able to spin this as some kind of mini-triumph over adversity, especially after Rob Holding hit the woodwork in stoppage-time.
But that adversity was all of his own team’s making.
For a good while, Arsenal looked like willing victims in their own horror movie.
And just when they seemed to have torn up the script with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s equaliser, Gabriel took a machete to their chances of earning a much-needed win.
It was bad enough that Walcott should score the goal. But the identity of the home players at fault underlined how and why a glorious summer is turning into a winter of discontent.
Mohamed Elneny, the redeemed midfielder, and Gabriel, the tough new defender, got in each other’s way and allowed Che Adams to turn.
Then Kieran Tierney, another of their star performers just weeks ago, was guilty of a defensive error so basic that schoolboys up and down the land were shaking their heads.
Southampton were great value for their lead. Ralph Hasenhuttl’s team were harder, better, faster, stronger, all over the pitch.
Arsenal fans and Arteta must thank their lucky stars for Bukayo Saka, the only player who was showing any confidence and purpose.
But after the teenager’s brilliant run had allowed Eddie Nketiah to tee up Aubameyang, Gabriel earned two yellow cards in four minutes.
Some may say you can’t blame a manager for such stupidity.
But the lack of intelligence and discipline that has now brought seven red cards in Arteta’s short reign – and don’t forget it should be eight, after El Neny’s crazy weekend headbutt – is evidence of a culture of irresponsibility.
At least when Arsene Wenger’s teams were racking up the dismissals, they were challenging at the right end of the table.
Walcott is well out of it.
⚽ Read our Arsenal live blog for the latest news from The Emirates
Source: Read Full Article