Saints finally find their W-ings

Charlie Austin nodding in the winner for Southampton after a fumble by Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno. The 3-2 loss was the Gunners' first defeat in 15 league games.
Charlie Austin nodding in the winner for Southampton after a fumble by Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno. The 3-2 loss was the Gunners' first defeat in 15 league games.PHOTO: REUTERS

Striker's fine double and Austin's winner seal 1st win in 15 games and end Gunners' long run

ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

Southampton 3

Arsenal 2


LONDON • Charlie Austin believes new Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl has injected new life into the club, after the Saints shattered Arsenal's 22-game unbeaten run to seal a shock 3-2 Premier League win at St Mary's yesterday.

Following fellow forward Danny Ings' first-half brace, Austin punished a howler from Gunners goalkeeper Bernd Leno in the 85th minute with his headed winner and his side clinched all three points.

The Saints twice took the lead through Ings, only for Henrikh Mkhitaryan's double to draw Arsenal level on each occasion.

But it was all over when Austin's predatory finish handed the Gunners their first defeat in 15 league games and brought a stunning halt to their longest unbeaten run in all competitions since 2007.

BREATH OF FRESH AIR

It's great. The gaffer's brought in new ideas and it's not just changed things in the changing room but around the whole club. The lads get a rocket and start expressing themselves.

CHARLIE AUSTIN, Southampton's match-winner, on new manager Ralph Hasenhuttl's impact at St Mary's.

BAD DAY AT THE OFFICE

We weren't concentrated through the 90 minutes. There were spells where we didn't defend well as a group. Southampton deserve credit, but it's disappointing by us.

ALEX IWOBI, Arsenal midfielder, on his side's off-colour display.

"The gaffer's brought in new ideas to not just the first-team changing room but the whole club," Austin said after the game.

"A new manager comes in with new ideas, all of the sudden the lads get a bit of a rocket and start expressing themselves and it just didn't work under (former manager) Mark Hughes, we just didn't get the right result.

"We have got a big Christmas coming up, with Huddersfield and West Ham here. We have to try and take six points from those."

Ings added: "As a club, we know the position we have put ourselves in, but we have shown today that we can really turn it around.

"If we keep showing resilience and hard work, we can turn it around. It shows we're moving in the right direction already."

Unai Emery's fifth-placed Arsenal had not lost since a 3-2 defeat at Chelsea in August and the north Londoners' first setback since the summer leaves them three points behind the fourth-placed Blues (37), who beat Brighton 2-1 yesterday.

While it was a bitter afternoon for Arsenal, Southampton's first win in 15 matches in all competitions was cause for much celebration.

Hasenhuttl, taking charge of his first home game, danced a jubilant jig on the pitch at full-time after securing the maiden victory of his reign.

He watched Southampton lose 1-0 at Cardiff in his first match and, in a PR stunt this week, he sent free drinks vouchers to Saints season-ticket holders.

The Austrian, who left his role as Leipzig boss in May, was the toast of St Mary's after Southampton won at home in the league for the first time since April to move to 12 points and climb out of the relegation zone on goal difference above Burnley.

Meanwhile, first-half goals from Pedro and Eden Hazard were enough to seal victory for Chelsea, while Solly March netted a consolation for the home side.

For all his talent, Hazard has actually not scored in his past eight games for Chelsea before yesterday and the Belgian forward was quick to play down his goal drought.

"The most important thing is to win games. I just enjoy my football and that's why I'm on the pitch," he said. "I always play with the same ability and quality.

"As a winger and striker, I just try to enjoy my football."

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 17, 2018, with the headline 'Saints finally find their W-ings'. Print Edition | Subscribe