Pepe, Saka, Laca score as AFC beats Saints

Southampton 1-3 Arsenal: Nicolas Pepe, Bukayo Saka and Alexandre Lacazette  on target as Gunners win - Eurosport

Our unbeaten streak in the EPL has been extended to 6 with a good win against the Saints!

A pleasant football match with both teams trying to create chances early on. We should have been up in the first minute but Laca missed a glorious opportunity. That lost opportunity proved costly as the Saints scored right away on a corner where their player is left unmarked in the middle of our surface area…But Pepe who was given a start on the left wing as Auba was missing restored parity with a well taken goal from a good assist from Xhaka. Fast forward and Laca atones for his miss with a glorious assist to Saka who rounded the keeper to finish in the empty net. But Saka is a kind player and after receiving a beautiful diagonal pass from Cedric, he first times a cross in front of goal for Lacazette. From then on, Saints tried to push and Luiz almost handed them a goal but Holding and Leno saved him the blushes. Another good save from Leno and the game was over.

Overall, we played well going forward and we were good enough at the back although we could have defended better. Our game management is improving for sure. Leno, Holding, Partey, Xhaka, Saka and Laca are in good form and Cedric had a great game at LB while Pepe showed some quality and had a decent game overall, scoring a vital goal. Arteta knows his set-up and is definitely close to having his starting XI.

Leno – 7. A solid performance.

Bellerin – 6. Still seems like our weak link

Holding – 7. Another solid outing

Luiz – 6.5. Not a bad performance but was the weaker CB and almost gave a goal away.

Cedric – 7.5. A very good game at LB. Impressive diagonal long passes and did the job defensively.

Partey – 6.5. Started brightly and then faded before going out in the second half. When he will be fully fit, he will be our heart and lung in midfield.

Xhaka – 7.5. Another assist and a tidy game. A bit slow at times but clearly a good spell for him.

Saka – 8. An assist, a goal and constantly creating chances. MOTM

ESR – 7. Industrious but went out injured.

Pepe – 7. A well taken goal and a positive attitude overall. A good showing but could have done better in some instances. Was this game the turning point of his AFC career?

Laca – 7.5. An assist, a goal and his usual drive, shame he missed his opening chance.


44 Responses to Pepe, Saka, Laca score as AFC beats Saints

  1. RockyLives says:

    Excellent RC

    Good report and good ratings.

    I thought Hector did fine tonight and would probably have given him an extra half point, but that’s splitting hairs.

    I was really pleased with Cedric who is really hitting some form.

    And I’m pleased for Pepe. He took his goal really well and had decent involvement throughout the game.

    Saka definitely MOTM for me, I would say closely followed by Lacazette who was still chasing down the ‘keeper like a 19-year-old even in the 93rd minute. Tremendous work rate, made a goal, scored a goal. Great stuff.

  2. LB says:

    A beautifully written match report and a very enjoyable read. Thank you. I wish I had something to disagree with but I don’t.

  3. RC78 says:

    @Rocky and LB – seems we all enjoyed a good game. Do you think we can keep this form knowing that Luiz and Xhaka are starting games for us?

  4. LB says:

    Xhaka was fine, in fact he was one of the better players in the first half. No problem there.

    As for Luiz, flick a coin, we could get one of the best defenders in the world or Side Show Bob.

    The thing to remember he is only here until the end of the season and is only filling in for the rusty Gabriel and the injured Mari.

    I don’t have a problem with him playing on the weekend, he is very experienced in those kind of games.

  5. fred1266 says:

    Although pepe had Good game don’t think things has turned just yet he started with esr and saka day always bring energy to the game

    What was with tha chip though

  6. RC78 says:

    I hope we beat Utd this week-end. I am not a fan of theirs but I d rather see City or Liverpool or Leicester or Everton win the league rather than Utd…So I hope we just dent their title hope when we meet them.

    As for Pepe, he had a good game but was not stellar. I liked the fact that he played further up the pitch in the first half. He was almost level with Laca. He also had a few good dribbling moment but still needs to turn it on more and more consistently! He has registered 6 assists and 3 goals so far this season, only Laca is more involved in goals (10 goals, 2 assists I think). So although Pepe is not yet at the level expected, he may be able to reach double-digit assists and maybe with a bit of good form and luck, he could reach 10 goals too especially if we go far in the Europa League

  7. Sue says:

    Nice one, RC 👍
    Revenge is sweet! Really enjoyed it..
    Excellent performance.. shout out to Cedric, Laca Leno…and last but not least Lil Chilli.. my motm.. another goal and assist, he’s bloody brilliant!
    Up to 8th… now let’s go and do the double over the Mancs!!!

  8. RC78 says:

    Sorry, I meant 6 goals and 3 assists for Pepe…

  9. RC78 says:

    Hoping Auba’s family situation is not too too bad but…apparently, the staff and players have dedicated this win to him. Maybe it is his father facing health issues, who knows…? Anyways, as AFC website said, thinking of you Auba

  10. Sue says:

    Well said, RC. I’m missing him.. ❤

  11. Sue says:

    Four weeks ago we were 15th, four points off relegation. Five wins and one draw later, we are now five points off the top four!! Yes teams around us have games in hand, but what a turnaround… West Ham are 4th!! What a crazy and entertaining season it has been! Love it

  12. VP says:

    Walcott should have scored lol

    Great writeup RC and excellent comments all.

    I agree with Sue that the ladder is bonkers with West Ham 4th and Aston Villa is 1 point behind us but have 3 games in hand!

    lets put Manure to the sword/shovel, COYG!

  13. GoonerB says:

    Thanks RC, a good performance

    I think our strongest 11 is shaping up well now. Southampton are a good team under Hasselhoff (or however you spell it) and I thought we were quite dominant overall.

    They were always going to have their dangerous moments but fir the most part I thought we managed those well but while still keeping the overall focus on us getting on the front foot.

    This is important because we are now playing like a team that wants to be dominant and the superior attacking team, while still being focussed and disciplined enough to manage the dangerous moments.

    Up until recently we looked more a team built for containment hoping to snatch a couple of attacking moments.

  14. Gööner In Exile says:

    The key ingredient to three goals….first time passes. No multi touches looking for a free player, see if play it. Xhaka’s could easily have been intercepted to Pepe but it was the right pass to try. Laca could easily have held ball up and played backwards he didn’t just helped it on. Saka could have tried to control before crossing he didn’t.

    The above come from confidence but also the freedom to take risks in a forward pass, possession isn’t everything especially if you are able to press.

    Where weakness came was in the substitutions, I know the situation changed with ESR needing to be protected rather than Pepe removed, but I would have kept Martinelli as the man coming on. Put Saka in the middle as we have seen he clearly has two feet, and put Martinelli out left, Pepe right.

    That said nothing to be too dissatisfied with. Thanks for the write up RC.

  15. RockyLives says:

    “The key ingredient to three goals….first time passes.”

    There you have it.

  16. Pete the Thirst says:

    Nice one RC

    Decent performance all round. Saka was again the stand out player closely followed by Cedric. Where did he pull that performance from?

    The press worked well and the players looked keen to work a plan. Like GIE pointed out the first time passes were an important ingredient in the performance. Pace of foot and pass makes teams nervous.

  17. RC78 says:

    I think also the first time passes are possible because players are (finally) moving in the right areas…Pepe’s run was good, Saka’s runs on the goal and on his assist were good and Laca will always make the run in front of goal in that situation to score the third. If Saka does not make himself available, then Laca has to hold up the ball and if Pepe does not squeeze his run passed Valery then Xhaka has to play on the side or backwards…

    Little by little, things are improving in our movement and game management. It is nice to see that something is coming together.

  18. Gööner In Exile says:

    What comes first the run or the pass. 😀

    I agree there is an element of truth to the fact that the pass can’t happen without the run but by the same token I don’t think players haven’t been making these runs previously. I do think some in the team can be more laboured in looking for those passes or too worried about the risk involved that they end up going sideways. I doubt Hector plays the pass Cedric did for the third for example.

    Interesting to hear Saka after the game, “I told Laca to look for me because I’d be running in behind”……19 years old…telling an experienced pro where to look for him. He is an absolute joy to watch.

  19. RC78 says:

    Good point Gooner and as Arteta said about him, Saka’s decision-making and game understanding are way beyond his age 🙂

    Odegaard has joined us on loan – it is official.

    I am a bit disappointed to be honest as I thought that Ceba could ably cover for ESR…so here is our central midfield set-up then:

    Starters: Partey,Xhaka – ESR
    Option B: Ceba, El Neny – Odegaard
    Option C: Chambers, Willok – Azeez ?

  20. RA says:

    Morning GIE,

    Your comment is spot on.

    I often hear that football is a simple game, and that is a truism, but the ‘simplicity’ surely depends to a large extent on the skill and awareness of the individual players.

    I’m sure you will agree that what appears to be a simple first time pass by ‘player X’ and undoubtedly is for him, because he repeats similar passes throughout a game.
    However, another player might need several touches to control the ball; to look up for a target, and then mis-passes to the other side.

    I vaguely remember hearing that when Magic Hat Merse was playing, he made some top first time passes, because he had the skill, but he also continually scanned the field and knew where other players were relative to himself, as a natural part of his game, so when he got the ball he knew exactly where he could safely pass it to a team mate.

    Football might be simple, but only if you have the skill, the confidence and the ability to know where your team mates are — like the Arsenal did last night. 😁

    As I have often said in the past, it is great to have someone, like you, who has been through the football mill and knows what goes on, and the key training phrases — such as ‘see it, pass it’.

    Merci beaucoup, monsieur. 👍

  21. RA says:


    I can understand your disappointment, as Ceba has been great at times, but he can also be blown away by some of the physically athletic midfielders he comes up against.

    Perhaps he will still stay — but I am not surprised Real Madrid don’t seem to be too fussed either way.

    C’est la vie.

  22. RC78 says:

    I think Ceba will leave and we will get another DM/CM over the summer.

  23. GoonerB says:

    RA, what you said about the scanning of the players around them is very true and a big factor in what separates the very good from the excellent midfielders.

    Cesc did it constantly, always checking over each shoulder, at times even as the ball was on it’s way to him. This was a trait that Jack had as well. These players always knew whether they could receive it on the turn, go either way or have to play it back.

    As much as I liked Rambo he didn’t develop that 360 degree awareness to the same level so would often receive the ball from a defender and play it straight back even when he had a lot of space to turn and drive forward into.

    This was because the realisation came to him suddenly that he hadn’t scanned around him and was at that split moment uncertain whether he was being closed down so had to resort to the safe option just in case.

    It’s a mental thing. Some players just have the dual ability to focus on where the ball is and what is happening immediately around the ball and still focus on scanning around them.

    Others don’t have that mental focus or ability so spend most of their time following what the ball is doing. It’s the old fashioned ball watching and you see it even at the highest level in many players.

    Fortunately Saka and ESR seem to have that dual focus ability

  24. GoonerB says:

    GIE also makes a great observation regarding the 1 touch balls and immediate lay offs but RC is right that the running off the ball has become more constant and incisive.

    The runner should make the run before the pass in a preemptive way. It’s simple after that. If the incisive run is made but the pass doesn’t come then it is the passing players responsibility for it not happening. Of an incisive pass is on and made but the runner doesn’t preempt it it is the runner off the balls responsibility

  25. GoonerB says:

    I’ve been aware of Odegaard for many years now through Norwegian connections and was hoping we’d secure him before he went to Madrid. Arsene was keen at the time.

    I think he made the wrong decision then because even though a massive club they aren’t known for risking 1st team spots on rookies.

    He could be great for us. He is left footed and can play central or a left of centre wing forward role. That means he offers that back up to ESR but also as a left footer on the attacking right. All of a sudden our qualitu options and back up in each attacking position are enhanced.

    I have 1 reservation though. I think he could be a player we really like and want and if we have no option on him it will be hard to think we brought him on more only for Madrid to capitalise on this.

    Although we have dropped off the top level recently we should be aiming and behaving like a club aiming to be back there, and that doesn’t mean borrowing player after player from Madrid and making them better for them. We should not resort to being a training arena for their players.

    Possibly even more unpalatable, and I say this with Sue in mind, is if he shines and we want him he may decide to pop off to the club he grew up supporting, namely Liverpool. That would be harder to stomach but we risk this possible scenario in taking a loan deal with no option.

    Hopefully, if he looks the real deal, he will enjoy it with us so much that he insists on joining us. Maybe with many of the clear outs and possible sales if 3-4 players who carry a decent transfer value on them, we could secure enough funds to go for him and Haaland together.

  26. GoonerB says:

    Sorry I meant right of centre with Odegaard

  27. GoonerB says:

    Going for 5 in a row 😄

    I heard a rumour about Auba. It’s not a troubling rumour per se but could be psychologically problematic for him if true

  28. fred1266 says:

    Any word or speculation why pea not playing

  29. RA says:


    Private family matters, apparently.

  30. Sue says:

    Welcome to the Arsenal!! Ooh was that Tesco?!

  31. RA says:

    Hi GB,

    I think quite a lot of the contract discussions – club to club – as opposed to the player loan contracts, is down to the end of loan options.

    Sometimes clubs want a player back after the loan – sometimes not – a fee will be agreed if the loaning club wants to make the move permanent, subject to the player agreement.

    My contacts tell me the same as you, no doubt, Onyergard has been out on loan from Real Madrid and for the right fee, I suspect Arsenal could get him.

    You are correct of course – he has been a ‘Pool fan since boyhood. If he plays well for us on loan, ‘Pool will watch him, and maybe try to buy him – if he is not up to scratch, or ‘Pool have a better player already, then he will be back to RM and loaned out elsewhere.

    I think that’s why Arsene was never keen on loans for those reasons.

  32. Gööner In Exile says:

    Love that Tierney is doing the almost Roy Keane of smashing it in to him to see whether he can cope, slightly more jovial way though with the encouragement afterwards.

  33. Gööner In Exile says:

    RA I think what you are referring to is what an old coach called “getting a picture” in those days they gave Cantona as an example, I think Bergkamp had it too but I was out of the coaching system by then, it wasn’t so much about the knowing where everyone was when you received the ball, it was knowing where the players would naturally be going to be next.

    So often you see players look up after playing passes in horror as the player they thought they were passing to was gone or a defender has taken their place. Not often do you see the greats play ball likes that to defenders, although you do often see them play the ball to no one but space and look incredulously at the intended recipient thinking why the hell didn’t you move after I saw you. Theo was often guilty of this playing with Cesc.

    DB10 put a lot of that “picture” down to his time at Ajax under their coaching scheme where youngsters were played in every position, so he knew instinctively where the left back for example was going to cover if the ball was in a certain position, and more importantly who was already out of position.

  34. Sue says:

    ❤ Miss Auba

  35. Gööner In Exile says:

    Just realised its the signing of Odergard we are full again on non home grown players so if we really want a left back in to the team we need to find someone who qualifies as homegrown.

    Squad with Contract Expiry, first 8 spots for Homegrown over 21’s.

    1. Bellerin* – 2023
    2. Chambers* – 2022
    3. Holding* – 2024
    4. Maitland-Niles* – 2023
    9. Soares – 2024
    10. Aubameyang – 2023
    11. Willian – 2023
    12. Ceballos – 2021
    13. Gabriel – 2025
    14. Elneny – 2022
    15. Lacazette – 2022
    16. Leno – 2023
    17. Mari – 2024
    18. Luiz – 2021
    19. Partey – 2025
    20. Pepe – 2024
    21. Runarsson – 2024
    22. Tierney – 2024
    23. Xhaka – 2023
    24. Odergard – 2021
    25. Ryan – 2021

    Under 21’s who have had minutes and season they have to be named:

    Azeez – 2024/25
    Balogun – 2023/24
    Nelson – 2021/22 (contract 2023)
    Nketiah – 2021/22 (contract 2022)
    Saka – 2023/24 (contract 2024)
    Saliba – 2023/24
    Smith Rowe – 2022/23 (contract 2023)
    Martinelli – 2023/24 (contract 2024)
    Willock – 2021/22 (contract 2023)

    Thankfully some of those youngsters have 2/3 seasons before requiring naming in the squad, would like to see their contracts extended a little bit though, I am sure their agents will tell them not to sign a 5 year deal on £40k a week) but we need to make sure we get them tied down.

  36. RC78 says:

    Ryan Bertrand, Danny Rose, Kieran Gibbs (?), Van Aanholt (?)

  37. Gööner In Exile says:

    Gibbs?!?! Controversial, but could do worse. Bertrand may not be a bad shout, no to Rose

  38. GoonerB says:

    The rumour I heard about Aubab was obviously untrue. I think it may have been initiated by some Spuds I know going on a wind up. Let’s hope for a speedy recovery to Ma Aubamayeng.

  39. RA says:


    Thanks for the update on awareness — and it’s true, not just at Arsenal, but I have seen top players in many clubs putting their hands on their hips, and yelling at some underling for not running where the ball would, and did, go.

    Cedric and Saka were a perfect example of the opposite – Saka who had spoken to Cedric before the game, as you said earlier, knowing exactly where Cedric was going to pass the ball – and hey presto Saka was there — and Arsenal were on fire.

  40. RC78 says:

    Well well well…
    – Leicester and Everton draw. Good for Leicester.
    – Sheffield beats Utd. Good for Sheffield.

    Now these results are also good for us if we beat Utd Saturday night 🙂

  41. RC78 says:

    and Chelsea drew and Aston Villa lost…all and all, a good match day for us so far.

  42. LB says:


    Following on from your Cedric/Saka combo. I wonder if Cedric said to Willian to just drop it on his right foot — In Portuguese, I guess?

  43. Sue says:

    Yes, RC, very pleasing results last night!
    The Mancs losing to the Blades – didn’t see that coming!! Dontcha just love it?! 🙂

  44. RockyLives says:

    New Post

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