MAS­TER OF INVENTION

Chilean scores one and helps cre­ate a sec­ond in Arse­nal’s win over Southamp­ton

New Straits Times - - Sport -

SOUTHAMP­TON

ARSENE Wenger hailed Alexis Sanchez’s unique qual­i­ties af­ter the Chilean opened the scor­ing in Arse­nal’s 2-0 vic­tory at Southamp­ton and then cre­ated a sec­ond goal for sub­sti­tute Olivier Giroud.

Wed­nes­day’s vic­tory took Arse­nal to within three points of the Premier League top four and keeps alive the pos­si­bil­ity of a 20th suc­ces­sive sea­son of Cham­pi­ons League foot­ball for the north Lon­don club.

Sanchez broke the dead­lock in the 60th minute at St Mary’s, gath­er­ing Me­sut Ozil’s pass and leav­ing two de­fend­ers sprawl­ing be­fore fir­ing home his 20th goal of the league cam­paign.

“The goal he scored tonight shows what he’s about: very good tech­nique in a short space,” Wenger said.

“He scores im­por­tant goals. He has invention in his head. He’s cre­ative, not phased by any­thing, and he sur­prised ev­ery­one in the sta­dium tonight with his goal.

“Ev­ery­one was ex­pect­ing him to take a shot, but he’s very quick on the move.”

It was Sanchez’s cross that Aaron Ram­sey headed back across goal for Giroud to nod in the vis­i­tors’ sec­ond goal in the 83rd minute.

“Giroud came on and the sec­ond goal was very im­por­tant for us, too,” Wenger added.

“We had to (dig deep) be­cause Southamp­ton started at a strong pace. The first half was quite even, but we were fo­cused and de­ter­mined.

“I felt if you look at in­di­vid­ual per­for­mances you couldn’t be dis­ap­pointed from the goal­keeper to Danny Wel­beck. Ev­ery­body played well.”

Now Arse­nal must keep the pres­sure on the top four by show­ing the same fo­cus and win­ning their three re­main­ing matches, start­ing at Stoke City to­mor­row.

Wenger knows that even nine points might not be enough to guar­an­tee a top-four fin­ish, but he says his team have no op­tion but to win the games in front of them.

Wenger is likely to be with­out Alex Oxlade-Cham­ber­lain at Stoke af­ter he left the field in the first half with a ham­string prob­lem. But it is too early to say whether he will be back in time for the FA Cup fi­nal against Chelsea on May 27.

“He was walk­ing prop­erly. It was tight, not like a knife,” Wenger said.

“It was more fa­tigue, but it’s dif­fi­cult to as­sess so close.”

Southamp­ton re­main 10th af­ter fail­ing to find the net for the third game in suc­ces­sion.

“We can­not find the good clin­i­cal edge,” said beaten man­ager Claude Puel.

“Ev­ery time it was in­ter­est­ing, I think, the play. Just not enough.

“All the games the same thing. We saw our games since the be­gin­ning of the sea­son, many games where we’ve had the same feel­ing.

“Op­por­tu­ni­ties, chances, good play, but no clin­i­cal edge.” AFP

REUTERS PIC

Arse­nal’s Alexis Sanchez (cen­tre) scores their first goal against Southamp­ton dur­ing their Premier League match on Wed­nes­day.

Arsene Wenger

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