Arsenal’s last outing, a shock 2-1 defeat away to Everton, left many Arsenal fans seething from the moment the final whistle blew.
It was an abject, grovelling display that was reminiscent of a midtable League 2 team in an FA Cup match, more than a Premier League club pushing for European spots.
A big response was needed against Southampton, and Mikel Arteta responded with the same team that lost to Everton, and the big call to leave talismanic captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang out after a “disciplinary breach”.
Arsenal started badly. It wasn’t so bad that they couldn’t correct it, but after the horror show that was Monday’s defeat, Arsenal could really have done with a faster start.
Southampton looked energetic, ready to fight for every ball and were fully capable of scoring, while Arsenal looked all over the shop, with misplaced passes, weak pass choices and a poor eye for the press.
However, the game switched before you could even blink.
A particularly nervy bit of playing out from the back, saw Arsenal string together some really intelligent, one-touch passes and soon Bukayo Saka was freed, if he kept his cool, then he was clean through.
He did and he squared the ball for Alexandre Lacazette, who lashed his effort into the top corner to give the home side a very underserved lead.
From there, Southampton fell apart.
Ralph Hasenhüttl could be seen barking orders from the touchline with increasing desperation, but Arsenal began to grow in confidence and soon punished Southampton with a second, after Kieran Tierney’s headed cross was met by the head of Martin Ødegaard, his first aerial goal of his career and the goal that doubled Arsenal’s lead.
Arsenal could have perhaps added a third before half-time, but the whistle came too soon, so Arsenal were forced to wait.
The second half was essentially one-way traffic.
Southampton had their moments, of course, but Arsenal were far too good for the away side to deal with.
Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka both rattled their ferocious shots against the woodwork before Gabriel Magalhães’ effort following a corner was chalked off by VAR for an offside infringement.
But in the end, it didn’t really matter, as not 5 minutes later, Gabriel Martinelli’s corner met the head of Gabriel Magalhães, who gave Arsenal the third and final goal.
The final whistle blew and Arsenal were home dry.
It was a much-needed performance from Mikel Arteta and his men. After the defeat at Everton, a big performance was needed and, but for the opening 20 minutes or so, Arsenal largely delivered that.
It was a very good performance from Aaron Ramsdale. Though not needed as much as he has been in previous weeks, the England goalkeeper provided one of the passes of the season to release Gabriel Martinelli in the first half and was a constant threat with his passing, despite playing in goal.
The decision to leave Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at home may have raised some eyebrows prior to kick-off, but Mikel Arteta was proven to be right again as Arsenal looked much better off without him.
The left-hand flank looked more dangerous and even Alexandre Lacazette looked more deadly through the middle than Aubameyang has looked all season.
This performance was a masterclass in bounce backs, but Arsenal will need to be at their very best if they are to get anything from Wednesday’s game, a visit from high-flyers West Ham.
32.) Aaron Ramsdale
18.) Takehiro Tomiyasu
4.) Ben White
6.) Gabriel Magalhães (Holding 70’)
3.) Kieran Tierney
5.) Thomas Partey
34.) Granit Xhaka (Lokonga 81’)
7.) Bukayo Saka
8.) Martin Ødegaard
35.) Gabriel Martinelli
9.) Alexandre Lacazette (c) (Pépé 83’)
33.) Arthur Okonkwo
16.) Rob Holding
17.) Cédric Soares
20.) Nuno Tavares
15.) Ainsley Maitland-Niles
23.) Albert Sambi Lokonga
10.) Emile Smith Rowe
19.) Nicolas Pépé
30.) Eddie Nketiah
13.) Willy Caballero
21.) Valentino Livramento
5.) Jack Stephens
35.) Jan Bednarek
2.) Kyle Walker-Peters
11.) Nathan Redmond
8.) James Ward-Prowse (c)
27.) Ibrahima Diallo
23.) Nathan Tella
18.) Armando Broja (Lyanco 70’)
9.) Adam Armstrong (Elyounoussi 43’)
41.) Harry Lewis
15.) Romain Perraud
43.) Yan Valery
19.) Moussa Djenepo
20.) Will Smallbone
24.) Mohamed Elyounoussi
32.) Theo Walcott
7.) Shane Long