Southampton’s success this season has been built on sturdy foundations this season and they began as expected with a high line couple paired with some impressive pressing.
Having received a rudimentary back pass from Nathaniel Clyne, he dithered before attempting to Cruyff turn himself out of trouble – Giroud read it though and slotted home.
The visitors improved as the half wore on and would have been at parity had it not been for the smart reflexes of Wojciech Szczesny, who did supremely well to push a Jay Rodriguez scissor kick wide of the goal five minutes before half-time.
Southampton put in a much improved second half performance but could not fashion any clear-cut chances with their best opportunities coming from distance.
Rodriguez and second-half substitute Pablo Osvaldo had the best opportunities, with the former dragging his effort wide before Szczesny easily claimed the latter’s tame effort.
Arsenal began to look nervy as the clock slowly ticked down and substitute Theo Walcott passed up the chance to settle those nerves when he whistled an effort wide with 82 minutes gone.
Giroud was given the chance to add a second when Jose Fonte hauled back Per Mertesacker at a corner and the Frenchman made no mistake as he tucked the ball past Boruc to send Arsenal four clear at the top of the table.
DELAY TO KICK OFF: Referee Mark Clattenburg has reportedly decided to put kick-off back to quarter past three after problems on the Tube delayed many fans.
10’ WILSHERE EFFORT: Incredible. What an escape - Giroud finds Wilshere inside the box and in the left channel and he lifts the ball over Boruc and has to watch on agonisingly as it comes back off the post.
16’ RAMSEY HITS THE POST: Ozil works some space down the right and finds Ramsey inside the box – the ball is fractionally behind the Welsh schemer who improvises incredibly well to flick the toward goal and it clips the post.
22’ GIROUD GOAL: Oh dear. What is Boruc doing. He hangs on to the ball for far too long and Giroud steals it and strokes home.
39’ RODRIGUEZ EFFORT: That would have been a goal of the season contender there. Rodriguez takes a lovely touch on his chest before taking a touch to steady himself and then scissor kicking to the far post from the edge. Szczesny claws it out.
52’ RODRIGUEZ CHANCE: Rodriguez runs at the Arsenal defence before dropping his shoulder and shooting from distance but it is wide.
75’ OSVALDO EFFORT: Osvaldo collects a Lambert flick and somehow gets past both Wilshere and Mertesacker before shooting but it is tame and Szczesny collects.
86’ GIROUD DISPATCHES PENALTY: Giroud gets the second from the spot after a petulant tug from Fonte on Mertesacker. Arsenal are sitting pretty at the top
Arsène Wenger took charge of his 650th PL match – he has won 377, drawn 161, and lost 112.
Rickie Lambert makes his 50th PL appearance (all for Southampton). He has netted 19 goals in the division.
17 of Olivier Giroud’s 18 PL goals have been scored in London (14 at Emirates).
TALKING POINT: Are Southampton title contenders? On this showing, no. But it could have been very different if it were not for that moment of madness from Boruc, which set the tone for a sloppy performance.
MAN OF THE MATCH:
Olivier Giroud (Arsenal): Where would the Gunners be without this man? At times maligned last year, he is reborn this and led the line well and grabbed a brace to secure the win.
Arsenal: Szczesny 7, Sagna 6, Koscielny 6, Mertesacker 6, Gibbs 6, Arteta 7, Ramsey 7, Wilshere 6, Ozil 7, Cazorla 7, Giroud 8. Subs: Monreal 5, Rosicky 5, Walcott 5.
Southampton: Boruc 6, Clyne 6, Fonte 6, Hooiveld 6, Shaw 6, Wanyama 7, Schneiderlin 6, Ward-Prowse 6, Lallana 6, Rodriguez 6, Lambert 6. Subs: Gazzaniga 6, S. Davis 6, Osvaldo 6.
MATCH IN A TWEET