Gervinho scored a brace as Arsenal romped to an impressive 6-1 Barclays Premier League victory over Southampton.

The visitors resembled a rabbit in the headlights for most of the first half as they failed to deal with Arsenal's pace and directness - epitomised as early as the 11th minute as Jos Hooiveld accidentally put into his own net. Lukas Podolski bent in a 25-yard free-kick as the onslaught continued, before Gervinho rifled home and Nathaniel Clyne netted an own goal to make it 4-0.

Wojciech Szczesny's clanger denied the north Londoners a fourth successive clean sheet to start the season as the returning Poland international flapped at a cross late in the first half and Danny Fox lashed home. It proved a mere consolation, though, as Gervinho and former Southampton winger Theo Walcott netted in a more-even second period.

Arsenal capitalised on the visitors' early ineptitude as Podolski played through Kieran Gibbs, whose low effort squirmed through Saints keeper Kelvin Davis' legs and was inadvertently turned home by Hooiveld.

Davis flapped at Santi Cazorla's corner and had to prevent Per Mertesacker heading home when the ball was played back in. Gervinho was twice off target before Hooiveld went off injured after 28 minutes, handing Maya Yoshida a debut.

Podolski doubled the lead three minutes later as he exquisitely curled into the top corner after Francis Coquelin was upended. Gervinho then connected with Mikel Arteta's dink over the top and found time and space to beat Davis at his near post.

It was proving a nightmare first half for Saints and it got worse eight minutes before half-time with a second own goal, Gibbs' cross this time diverted home by Clyne to make it 4-0.

The returning Szczesny spilt a high cross under pressure from Rickie Lambert, allowing Fox to lash home right on half-time.

Saints debutant Gaston Ramirez tested Szczesny five minutes and then played through Lambert, who shot wide, but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain bundled wide a Gervinho cross before Aaron Ramsey's shot came back off a post for Gervinho to tap home his second.

Davis saved from Oxlade-Chamberlain but substitute Walcott netted late on after the Saints goalkeeper parried.