Arsenal travelled to Southampton on Thursday evening in desperate need of a victory. Here are five things we learned from the 2-0 win.
Arsenal finally restarted their Premier League campaign on Thursday night with a 2-0 victory over Southampton. Following their dismantling by Manchester City and a harrowing late defeat to Brighton at the weekend, Mikel Arteta was desperate for his team to grab their first away victory in the Premier League since his arrival. And so, while the performance was lacking at times, he will be extremely relieved to see them come away with a precious three points.
Here are five things we learned from the 2-0 win.
5. The best Rob Holding returns
Thanks to David Luiz’s suspension and injuries to Pablo Mari and Sokratis, Rob Holding was handed his rare chance to start under Mikel Arteta at the weekend. It was his first Premier League start since Arteta arrived and, at times, it looked like it, especially when he took too many touches to release the ball.
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On this occasion, though, Holding was back to his very best, the type of form that made him a key player in Unai Emery’s first few months at the club. Eight clearances, two blocked shots, winning all four of his aerial duels, he was a stalwart at defensive set-pieces and marshalled the defensive line excellently when under pressure in the second half.
He was also Arsenal’s most accurate passer, completing 88% of his attempts. Calm and composed in possession, he and Kieran Tierney repeatedly linked up to release play from deep areas in the pitch. Holding looked back to his most assured, confident best. After 18 months of injury hell, it was most pleasing to see.