Just like last week’s defeat to Manchester United, Arsenal were punished for a flat start, as Charlie Austin put the hosts ahead in the 3rd minute after a turnover from Per Mertesacker, starting in place of the injured Shkodran Mustafi. Though Mertesacker was ultimately at fault , the other defenders, especially Nacho Monreal, didn’t do much to help. Conceding early goals has become a bit of a problem this season.
No team has conceded more goals in the opening 15 minutes of Premier League games than Arsenal (5) this season.— Orbinho (@Orbinho) December 10, 2017
Austin slipped behind Mertesacker again a few minutes later, but Petr Cech made a great save to keep it at 1-0. The Gunners settled into the game as the first half continued, but their passing and movement was a too little slow and stale to break down Southampton. They had a few chances, however, including a great shot by Aaron Ramsey in the 33rd minute that forced Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster to make a nice save diving to his left. Arsenal also could have had a penalty late in the half when Maya Yoshida clipped Alexandre Lacazette after a shot by the striker sailed high.
Southampton were content to sit back and force Arsenal to pass through them in the second half, but like the opening 45 minutes, the Gunners lacked their usual zip with the ball. Southampton’s strategy nearly paid off with a second goal, but the crossbar and a poor finish by Ryan Bertrand kept Arsenal in the game.
It was looking like Arsenal was heading towards a second frustrating defeat in a row until Alexis, who had struggled up to that point, floated a perfect cross for Giroud, having come on for Lacazette in the 72nd minute, to nod in the equalizer.
Giroud with a late equaliser for Arsenal. 1-1 pic.twitter.com/wj3wQMCr5W— Terje (@xArsenalTerje) December 10, 2017
Unfortunately, Aaron Ramsey, who is enjoying a fantastic season, suffered a hamstring injury (not his first) in the last few minutes. It is unclear how serious the injury is, but Arsenal really can’t afford to have Ramsey out during this busy stretch of fixtures.
Arsenal were quite bad today. They were sloppy and created few chances, despite having a huge advantage in possession and spending much of the second half camped outside of Southampton’s box. Hopefully this was just a blip in what has been a positive stretch of performances recently, including the loss to Manchester United. Getting back on track next week will be vital - the Gunners travel to face West Ham on the road on Wednesday before taking on Newcastle United at home on Saturday. Both are very winnable games that should allow Arsenal to recover some of the points lost the past two weekends.