Arsenal have their Henry… RVP hole sinks Giroud

Gervinho shows his class in Arsenal romp

If you are a Gunner surely you can’t miss the irony of the start to this season – a 6-1 thrashing of Southampton as against the start to last season, an 8-2 humiliation by Manchester United.

Suddenly the ‘In Arsene We Trust’ banner does not seem such an anachronism after all.

In looking to tick all the boxes, the Emirates has hope now that Abou Diaby fills the Patrick Viera hole and Santi Cazorla, the one left by Cesc Fabregas.

That leaves Thierry Henry and Robin Van Persie.

Yesterday, Gervinho showed enough of pace, guile and finishing class to suggest he is ready to don the mantle – and banish Theo Walcott to the bench, or Juventus, or Chelsea.

The Gunners dominated proceedings in north London and had built a four-goal advantage over Saints inside the opening 37 minutes, before going onto net twice more in the second half.

Gervinho's brace alongside own goals from Jos Hooiveld and Nathaniel Clyne, a Lukas Podolski free-kick and Walcott's late effort did the damage at the Emirates Stadium.

The performance bodes well for Arsenal as they prepare for a tough couple of weeks that sees Wenger take his side to Montpellier in the Champions League, before league matches with Manchester City and Chelsea.

“In the first 45 minutes we were at a particularly high level,” the Gunners boss said.

“We had a good combination of pace, speed of our passing and quick combinations. The movement was excellent.

“We were quite lucky as well because they conceded two own goals, but overall I think it was a level of continuity with what we have shown at Liverpool.

“The game was very interesting to watch. We lost a bit of urgency in the second half, but that is human.

“We controlled the game and remained serious.

“It is a big week coming up because we go on Tuesday to Montpellier, then on Sunday we play at Man City.

“We have two interesting weeks coming up because we play Man City, Chelsea and Montpellier in the Champions League.

“We know much more about the team. There is a positive energy in this team - a desire to play, a desire to play well together and real team play so it is very exciting.”

Arsenal will be boosted by the return of Abou Diaby from a hip problem for those fixtures after a win in which the only negative was the end of the hosts' three-match clean sheet record due to a Wojciech Szczesny clanger.

The Poland international, making his return from a rib injury, spilt a high cross from the right under pressure from Rickie Lambert, allowing Danny Fox to lash home on the stroke of half-time.

That then leaves the RVP hole and the man brought in to fill it – Olivier Giroud who could only make the bench.
As his side scored six, Giroud must have surely been thinking… if only.

The 6ft 4in striker was quoted as saying: “In reality, the pressure doesn’t come from following in the footsteps of Henry, Pires, Petit or Vieira but Robin van Persie’s departure.

“I was expecting to be his substitute but now I’m his natural successor. If I do have pressure, it’s on that level.

“Wenger’s the person I will learn a lot from, because I still need to improve. I know it and he knows it.

“He told me I’d made the right choice coming here, to improve.”

Southampton, hope when you’re down
The three points puts Arsenal third in the standings, while leaving visitors Southampton rooted to the bottom of the table.

Nigel Adkins' side have lost all four of their matches since returning to the top flight and were given a hiding today as they failed to cope with the Gunners' speed and directness.

“We just played a very good team and the big thing is - we highlight it all the time - if you have good possession of the football and you turn it over cheaply, the players at this standard are going to punish you,” the Saints manager said.

“Obviously Gervinho and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are two talented football players. They were ruthless today.

“When the fixtures came out, people were looking at Man City, Man United, Arsenal - three games that on paper we would probably get a good chasing in.

“Today we have come out on the back of a poor scorelines, but from my point of view it just highlights the standards in the Barclays Premier League and what we have to aspire to.

“When we look at it, I think we actually started the first five minutes all right. We kept good possession of the ball and that is what we looked to do.

“But when you score an early goal anywhere, it gives the opposition the upper hand.

“We'll analyse the goals ourselves tomorrow and there are probably things you think you could do better on.'

Southampton's task was made all the more difficult at 2-0 down after Jos Hooiveld went off injured, forcing Adkins to hand new signing Maya Yoshida his debut in the 28th minute.

“We lost Hooiveld after a period of time with a calf injury,' Adkins said. “We'll have to see how serious it is.

“Maya has only had one training session with us. He has just been to Japan and he was thrown right in at the deep end.

“I think he did ever so well as he grew into the game but it is not easy as he has got to know his team-mates.”


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