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Southampton 3-2 Arsenal: Danny Ings and Charlie Austin goal secure three points for new boss Ralph Hasenhuttl

On his home debut, the newly-appointed Saints boss tore up the form book.

Southampton’s season has lift off; Arsenal’s 22-game unbeaten run came to a shuddering halt in the process. 

Not a bad way to introduce yourself. If Southampton fans hadn’t heard of Ralph Hasenhuttl before his appointment, then they certainly know who he is now.

Really, this was a strange game football. The Gunners finished with just two recognised defenders on the pitch.

Similarly, Danny Ings – at 5ft 10 – scored with two headed goals.

But in the end, the goal that mattered arrived five minutes from time; another header – this time Charlie Austin on hand to secure Southampton their first win since September.

To add to the unfamiliarity of this clash, Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka was deployed in an unorthodox role as one of Arsenal’s three centre-backs as Emery juggled his pack to deal with their crippling selection crisis.

With Rob Holding out until the rest of the season – and Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi suspended – all three of Arsenal’s first choice centre-halves unavailable.

It meant Laurent Koscielny, just three days after making his return from a seven month injury lay-off, made his first Premier League appearance since a 4-1 win over West Ham in April.

And as if Emery’s defensive concerns weren’t bad enough; the Gunners were without Sead Kolasinac, who sustained a thigh injury in training, meaning Nacho Monreal made his first start since recovering from a hamstring injury picked up at the start of October. 

Yet, Arsenal’s vulnerability in defence meant the pendulum of this pulsating encounter could swing at any moment.

In his moment of need, Emery turned to Mesut Ozil, who replaced Iwobi in the 70th minute.

But it was Southampton who had the ball in the net in the 75th minute, substitute Shane Long bundling home after Leno produced an excellent point-blank stop deny Maya Yoshida’s bullet header from Armstong’s corner – but the goal was eventually ruled out, assistant referee Sian Massey-Ellis raising her flag.

But in the 85th minute there was no flag – just utter jubilation.

Having broken down the right, Long’s dinked cross was delectable – inch perfect.


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