One of those matches without one real hero – Just a very good and effective display from Arsenal, who had everything going for them from the first moment. But because Arsene Wenger tried so hard to find a replacement for Van Persie, it’s necessary to concede that Lukas Podolski, for the second straight match, looks like a perfect substitute so far.
Not that Podolski is a true striker. He’s more of a winger how drifts to the middle a lot. If it was his counter attacking and passing ability in the win over Liverpool, combining very well with Santi Cazorla, it was a super free kick against an outmatched Southampton side, and generally looking dangerous and full of intent every time he had the ball. Podolski isn’t a true substitute for RVP and his 30 goals from last season, but maybe no one is. Finding a system that works around not having a real goal-glut of a striker is part of the magic, that’s beginning to work.
The big plus for Arsenal is Santi Cazorla completely taking over the playmaker role, with Mikel Arteta looking more and more comfortable with his more defensive, withdrawn role. Cazrola spreads the passes around and dictates the pace of play. His passing has been superb so far, without any sort of pressure even better against the visitors from the South, who have yet to pick up a point in their Premier League return.
Cazrola’s mobility and off the ball movement to the sides often creates a lot of space and spot exchanges with players, which works very well with Gervinho, who actually scored two goals in one match which seemed impossible for the biggest misfiring forward this side of the Thames river. Even a depressed Theo Walcott (or are Arsenal depressed with him) got on the scoring list for the first time this season, late in the match against a completely broken down side.
Kieran Gibbs, who was fantastic against Liverpool, had another effective performance as he turns into Arsenal’s featured left back, creating two chances that led to Southampton’s own goals. There were a lot of growing pains along the way, since Gibbs got his first starts at the Emirates, but it seems they were building up to something worthwhile. Arsenal suddenly have the best defense in the league, conceding only goal throughout their first four matches.
And while this was the kind of display Arsenal fans hope for from their team; the kind of football Arsene Wenger dreams about at night, it was way too easy. When everything goes your way so smoothly, it happens to be a bit to do with luck or an incredibly weak opposition, with the latter being the case in the 6-1 win. A true test of this still-work-in-progress side will be better seen next week against Manchester City and possibly their Champions League away match at Montpellier, where Olivier Giroud might feel comfortable for the first time this season.