Arsenal hit Southampton for six
Arsenal hand Southampton a harsh lesson with comfortable 6-1 win
Arsenal secured their second consecutive Premier League victory with an impressive 6-1 win over Southampton at the Emirates Stadium.
Dominating from the off, Arsenal never looked likely to take anything less than three points against their newly promoted opponents, whose chastening start to life in the top flight continues.
It was at times a calamitous showing from the visitors as own goals from Jos Hooiveld and Nathaniel Clyne gave the rampant Gunners a leg up they hardly required, while a brace from Gervinho, a wonderful free-kick and a late strike from Theo Walcott completed the rout.
Arsenal took a deserved early lead thanks to a calamitous piece of defending from Hooiveld. Having probed away down the right for the early part of the game through the excellent Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, the breakthrough came down the opposite flank as Kieran Gibbs put in a hopeful low cross, and with Gervinho lurking Hooiveld bundled the ball into his own net.
There was no relenting from the early Arsenal pressure as Gervinho passed up the opportunity to prove those who had raised eyebrows at his inclusion ahead of Olivier Giroud wrong by not putting the Gunners ahead from a a tight angle after 20 minutes. Per Mertesacker, preferred once more to Laurent Koscielny at the back, couldn't find the net once Kelvin Davis had fumbled from the resulting corner either.
By the 29th minute a visibly frustrated Nigel Adkins, now perched on the edge of his technical area had seen enough, and withdrew the injured Hooiveld from the field with debutant Maya Yoshida taking his place, although not before another clutch of Arsenal chances.
There was little surprise when Arsenal doubled their lead after 32 minutes. Podolski, whose burgeoning partnership with fellow new boy Santi Cazorla is one of the more attractive elements of this new look Arsenal side, curled home a sumptuous free-kick, although Davis could, and perhaps should, have done better in goal.
Gervinho was next in line to take advantage of the leaky Saints defence that has now conceded 14 goals in four defeats, as Mikel Arteta's divine chip over the top allowed the Ivorian to run unchallenged and slam home for his first goal of the season.
With almost ten minutes to go before half-time Southampton were already out of the game, only for another own goal, this time from Nathaniel Clyne, to rub salt in the wounds. The Saints' sizeable travelling contingent chanted their hopes of winning the game 5-4, but damage limitation was the name of the game for the south coast club from that point onwards.
There was to be a small glimmer of hope offered to the visitors just before half-time as Szczesny proved himself to be the most welcoming of hosts as he flapped at a cross from the right, dropping the ball kindly into the path of Daniel Fox who had the easy task of tucking the ball home.
Southampton started the second half much brighter than the first, with debutant Gaston Ramirez entering the fray in place of Steven Davis. The record signing from Bologna almost had an immediate impact as he tested Szczesny from inside the area, although the Polish 'stopper dealt with the shot comfortably enough.
Green shoots of Southampton's growing confidence in front of a 60,097 crowd were even more apparent as Rickie Lambert found space in the Arsenal area, only to snatch his shot wide of Szczesny's post.
However with just under twenty minutes to go Arsenal snuffed out Southampton's resurgence with another fine goal. Aaron Ramsey, having only just arrived on the pitch in place of Francis Coquelin, jinked his way into the penalty area only to see his low effort bounce off the post into the path of Gervinho, who tapped home for his second of the match.
A contented Arsene Wenger rung the changes soon after with one eye on Arsenal's Champions League clash against Montpellier in mind, with Theo Walcott and Giroud coming on to replace Gervinho and Podolski. Southampton's last roll of the dice came with Jay Rodriguez coming on for the disappointing Lambert.
There was to be more pain for Southampton before the final whistle was blown, with Walcott notching against his former club shortly before time was up to complete a humbling day for Adkins and his men.
After their slow start to the season Arsenal now appear to be in full swing as they moved into the top four after four games. For rock-bottom Southampton, their task of survival now appears more daunting than ever.