Arsenal beats Southampton 1-0 in Premier League
LONDON (AP) — Alexis Sanchez rescued Arsenal again by scoring in the 89th minute Wednesday to secure a 1-0 win over Southampton in the Premier League.
Sanchez slotted into an empty net after Aaron Ramsey squared the ball across the goal, finally breaking down a Southampton side which had been kept in the game by a series of good saves by Fraser Forster.
It was the Chilean’s ninth league goal of the season and kept Arsenal in sixth place, three points behind third-place Southampton. It was Southampton’s second straight loss after a 3-0 defeat to Manchester City, denting the surprise team’s aspirations of a top-four finish.
“We had to dig deep, and we played against a good team,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. “We could see in the last 20 minutes that they started to suffer a little bit physically and were able to create openings.”
Arsenal had struggled to create chances until Olivier Giroud came on midway through the second half, and Forster made two great one-handed saves to deny the France striker and Danny Welbeck as the hosts pushed for a winner.
Sanchez had been kept in check up until then, despite alternating between playing on both the left and right wing as well as up front, as the hosts tried to find an answer to Southampton’s disciplined defense.
Ronald Koeman’s team, which eliminated Arsenal from the League Cup with a 2-1 win at the Emirates in September, seemed content to sit back and focus on counterattacks. The visitors had the best chance of the first half when Graziano Pelle played a neat one-two with Steven Davis but skied his volley from close range well over the bar.
The second half saw even fewer chances until Giroud provided the needed spark when he came on for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and forced a good stop from Forster with a fierce volley from a tight angle in the 69th minute.
Forster then made a spectacular one-handed save to deny Welbeck just a minute later after the forward was teed up by a back-heel flick from Giroud. And the goalkeeper used his other hand to make a flailing stop from Giroud’s close-range header in the 88th.
Arsenal kept pushing forward, and Giroud appealed in vain for a handball in the area before the ball fell to Ramsey on the right. The Welsh midfielder’s low ball found Sanchez, who was free to slot in one of his easiest finishes of what has been an impressive debut season for the Gunners.
“We didn’t have our usual fluency in the game,” Wenger said. ”(Giroud’s) physical presence made a difference.”