Arsenal 2 Southampton 0 match report: Artur Boruc howler and Olivier Giroud double vision keeps title in focus for Arsenal

Arsenal striker takes advantage of showboating by Southampton goalkeeper Boruc to break deadlock and secures victory with a penalty that consolidates top spot

Emirates Stadium

Artur Boruc has not let in many goals this season, but the ones he has conceded tend to be memorable. Three weeks after suffering the embarrassment of being beaten from 100 yards by his Stoke counterpart Asmir Begovic at the Britannia, he committed one of those howlers yesterday that go straight to video.

The keeper had plenty of time to clear when he received a pass-back from Nathaniel Clyne midway through the first half with the game goalless. But he dallied, allowing Olivier Giroud to close him down. Instead of simply clearing he did one Cruyff turn, then another, before tying himself into so many knots attempting a third that Giroud was able to nick the ball off him. As Boruc fell dizzily to the ground, Giroud rolled the ball into the unguarded net.

Arsenal’s victory, which put them four points clear, was confirmed three minutes from time when Giroud added a second from the penalty sport after Jose Fonte had been spotted tugging Per Mertesacker’s shirt at a corner, but the first goal was the critical one. Saints may not concede many (seven now in 12 games) but they do not score many either (15 in 12 games) so cannot afford to gift goals in such sloppy fashion

“We were unlucky in the way we conceded the goal,” Southampton’s manager, Mauricio Pochettino, said. He added: “There is nothing more to say. We have to move on. These things can happen in football.”

Boruc had a chequered start to his Southampton career, being dropped for throwing a bottle at his own supporters on his home debut, but has since been a key figure in their rise to prominence, shaking off a reputation as a loose cannon. Yesterday’s error, however, smacked of misplaced arrogance. Pochettino, though, said the keeper had no need to apologise: “I offer 100 per cent support for him. Football players can have amazing performances, and they can have a bad day, as he did today.”

Pochettino also said he approved of the fact that Boruc was trying to maintain possession and play out from the back. “It is the way we play. That is what I demand of him, of all my players.”

It is also the way Arsenal play, but Arsène Wenger said he had in the past told Wojciech Szczesny not to take similar chances. The manager was relieved to win what he admitted was a test of character after the defeat at Old Trafford and the subsequent rigours of the international break. “It was vital to win after the Manchester United defeat. There is always the question, ‘Can you win after a big defeat?’ ”

Liverpool’s failure to hold on to the lead at Goodison Park earlier in the day meant Arsenal went into the game still top of the Premier League. They were further boosted when the visitors were forced to omit centre-half Dejan Lovren, who had fallen ill during the night. Jos Hooiveld, who scored an own goal when Southampton lost 6-1 at the Emirates last September, returned, making a total of seven survivors from that rout.

If many of the personnel are the same Southampton are a very different side now, and arrived in north London boasting the tightest defence in Europe. They had also won at Liverpool and drawn at Old Trafford, so Wenger was wary.

After some initial problems dealing with Southampton’s high pressing game they quickly found a way to deal with it. With a plethora of midfielders coming short to receive possession Arsenal were able to play out from the back and impose their customary territorial control. As the ball fizzed around the fringes of the Saints box it was inevitable that chances would be created, and the first came after 12 minutes. The impressive Jack Wilshere seized on a bouncing ball in the box, his first touch took him past Luke Shaw, and from an impossible angle he chipped Boruc, only for the ball to rebound off the far post and be gathered by the relieved goalkeeper. Five minutes later Arsenal struck the post again. Mesut Özil drilled a low cross into the box and Aaron Ramsey flicked the ball against the upright.

Then came Boruc’s comedy moment. It left Saints with much to do. New England cap Adam Lallana led the response, bringing a pair of fine saves from Szczesny with a brace of dipping volleys before the break, then testing his handling with a low shot after it. But the Saints captain was, said Pochettino, feeling the effects of back-to-back England matches, especially the groin he stretched against Chile, and had to be withdrawn. Thereafter Southampton never threatened, but there was widespread relief for the home side when Giroud rolled in the late penalty for his 10th goal of an already productive season.

Arsenal (4-1-3-1-1): Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs; Arteta (Rosicky, 74); Wilshere, Ramsey, Cazorla (Walcott, 70); Giroud, Ozil (Monreal, 81).

Southampton (4-3-3): Boruc; Clyne, Fonte, Hooiveld, Shaw (Davis, h/t); Ward-Prowse, Wanyama, Schneiderlin; Lallana (Osvaldo, 53), Lambert, Rodriguez.

Refere: M Clattenburg.

Match rating: 7

Man of the match: Wilshere

Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
Life and Style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits