A remarkable strike from Southampton's Cuco Martina helped prevent Arsenal from becoming Premier League leaders in a 4-0 win at St. Mary's Stadium on Boxing Day.
- Southampton 4 Arsenal 0
- Martina stunner gives Saints lead
- Lively Long bags a brace
- Fonte heads home an emphatic third
- Gunners miss chance to go top
Southampton took the lead in sensational style in the 19th minute when Martina, making his first Premier League start, fired home an outrageous, in-swinging volley which will no doubt be a 'Goal of the Season' contender.
Shane Long, who had a eventful night with a disallowed goal and efford denied by the woodwork, doubled Saints' lead with a 55th minute tap-in after Saido Mane played his part in prying open a disorganised Arsenal defence.
Saints captain Jose Fonte added a third in the 69th minute before Long completed the demolition deep inside injury time, which ensured Leicester City stayed top of the table by two points.
Ronald Koeman had criticised his Southampton players following their dismal defeat to Tottenham, but would have been pleased with his side's positive start on home soil.
The Saints pushed high and tried to unsettle an Arsenal side that was unchanged for the fourth game in a row. The Gunners still created half-chances, though, with in-form Olivier Giroud heading over the crossbar from an early corner.
Arsenal's attacking play then came through an unlikely source in Nacho Monreal, bombing forward from the left-back position. A stunning ball from Aaron Ramsey gave the Spaniard an early sight of goal, before firing straight at the returning Maarten Steklenburg just a couple of minutes later.
Martina then left everyone, including himself, stunned in the 19th minute with a jaw-dropping half-volley. A Southampton cross was only half-cleared and the Curacao international pounced on the loose ball from 25 yards out with the outside of his right boot, with a full-stetch Petr Cech left stranded as the bullet of a shot fizzed passed him into the bottom-left corner.
The wonderful effort had Arsenal rattled, especially Laurent Koscielny who had to use every inch of his frame to deny the lively Long from capitalising on a sloppy mistake ten minutes later.
Long then turned his attention toward Koscielny's defensive partner Per Mertesacker deep inside Arsenal's own area. He robbed the ball from the German and proceeded to calmly guide the ball beyond Cech from the tightest of angles. However, referee Jon Moss deemed the striker had won the ball back illegally and added to his woe by disallowing the goal and showing Long a yellow card.
Suddenly, Theo Walcott sprang into life against his former side as Arsenal tried to finish the first half with a flourish. He drove at the heart of the Southampton defence with a run inside from the right channel but could only round off the move with a tame left-foot finish.
He then had a chance to punish Southampton's sloppy set-piece marking, yet his free header from a left-side corner crashed into the side-netting.
Arsenal could have counted themselves lucky not to have fallen further behind with the half-time break mere seconds away. Long broke away from the retreating Mertesacker but, with the goal at his mercy, he lifted the ball way over the crossbar from close range.
There were relieved looks on Arsenal faces once again shortly after the restart as Virgil van Dijk beat Cech in the air to head in a pinpoint cross from Jordy Clasie. His fellow centre-back Jose Fonte was rightly adjudged offside as he broke past the Gunners' defensive line prematurely.
Relief then soon turned to despair as Long made amends for his earlier miss ten minutes into the second half. Huge gaps appeared in Arsenal defence and gave Saido Mane the simple task of squaring the ball for the striker to tap in. Arsenal players were livid that the goal stood after Long appeared to trip Koscielny in the build-up to the goal.
There were also question marks about Southampton's third goal which arrived in the 69th minute. The hosts were fortunate to be awarded a corner, which was promptly headed in by Fonte who had a clear run at the near post in between a static Arsenal defence.
Second-half substitute Dusan Tadic almost immediately added another to Southampton's goal tally with a stinging drive which was parried away by a perplexed Cech.
Arsenal's frustrating night was then capped off by Long, who bagged his second of the night deep into stoppage time with a strike that somehow crept under the Gunners' goalkeeper.