An improved second-half performance helped Southampton hold Premier League leaders Arsenal to a draw at St. Mary’s on Sunday afternoon.
Granit Xhaka finished well from Ben White’s cross to give the Gunners an early lead, but the Saints regained some momentum in the second half before Stuart Armstrong equalized with the finish of a quick counter-attack.
Arsenal quickly went to work in the opening ten minutes as Xhaka and Martin Odegaard went close and their period of dominance was rewarded when Xhaka tapped in White’s cross in the penalty area.
The Gunners benefited from Saints’ lackluster start, with the hosts unable to find any rhythm and opportunities to gift the visitors. Thomas Partey collected James Ward-Prows’ pass with ease and Odegaard then fed Gabriel Jesus, who struggled and eluded Mohammed Salisu before firing into the side netting.
Southampton won a number of corners but were unable to test Aaron Ramsdale, with Jesus going closest when his first-time shot was tipped over by Gavin Bazuna.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side looked pretty toothless in front of goal, the lack of threat summed up early in the second half when Adam Armstrong received the ball in the final third from Gabriel but hesitated in possession and ended up giving the ball away. back to Arsenal.
A couple of crosses from Stuart Armstrong and Romain Perraud caused hesitation in the Arsenal defence, but Jesus came closest to scoring, only to be denied by a brilliant challenge from Mohamed Elyounoussi, who stopped the Brazilian before he could get a solid shot away.
Southampton were more assertive as the game wore on and punished Arsenal for a lack of sharpness when they equalised. Elyounoussi drove into the box and fed Stuart Armstrong who placed his shot into the far corner past Aaron Ramsdale to make it 1-1.
While the home side pushed forward to claim all three points, Arsenal were relatively untroubled at the back and instead had to rue some missed opportunities as their lead over Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table was cut to two points.
Southampton vs Arsenal player ratings – Premier League
1. Southampton (4-4-2)
GK: Gavin Bazunu – 7/10 – Had to keep out one Xhaka shot but was powerless to prevent another from hitting the roof of his net. Steady throughout.
RB: Lyanco – 7/10 – Made his first league start of the season. Had Southampton’s first shot on target with an ambitious drive. Was on the front foot in defence.
CB: Duje Caleta-Car – 6/10 – Had a few nibbles at Jesus and Saka which could have ended worse.
CB: Mohammed Salisu – 5/10 – Looked worried whenever Jesus drove forward at the Southampton defence.
LB: Romain Perraud – 6/10 – Rampaged up and down the left hand side, putting in a few dangerous deliveries.
RM: Mohamed Elyounoussi – 8/10 – Remarkable sprint back and tackle denied Jesus with the goal at his mercy. Set up the equaliser with a great run and pass to Armstrong.
CM: James Ward-Prowse – 6/10 – Some sloppy passes handed Arsenal the initiative.
CM: Ibrahima Diallo – 6/10 – A little overwhelmed during the early stages but improved and made a lot of ball recoveries.
LM: Stuart Armstrong – 7/10 – Put a few dangerous crosses into the box before equalising with a well placed effort.
ST: Joe Aribo – 5/10 – Couldn’t hold the ball up when Southampton needed respite from Arsenal pressure.
ST: Adam Armstrong – 6/10 – Got through a lot of defensive work, nicking possession back with some good tackles, but didn’t pose much of a threat to Arsenal’s back line.
SUB: Che Adams (73′ for Aribo) – 6/10
SUB: Theo Walcott (73′ for Adam Armstrong) – 6/10
SUB: Samuel Edozie (80′ for Stuart Armstrong) – 6/10
Manager: Ralph Hasenhuttl – 6/10 – Set his side out in the wrong formation early in the game, handing Arsenal the platform to play. Changes helped Southampton later on to nick a point.
2. Arsenal (4-2-3-1)
GK: Aaron Ramsdale – 6/10 – Didn’t have a proper save to make in the first half before being beaten by Armstrong.
RB: Ben White – 7/10 – Charged forward and delivered a good cross for Xhaka to convert.
CB: William Saliba – 7/10 – Distributed possession well and rarely looked troubled by Southampton’s runners.
CB: Gabriel – 6/10 – A few sloppy moments in possession but they went unpunished.
LB: Takehiro Tomiyasu – 6/10 – A little sluggish in closing down Elyounoussi before the equaliser. Nice and solid otherwise.
CM: Thomas Partey – 6/10 – A couple of interceptions got Arsenal on the front foot in attack.
CM: Granit Xhaka – 7/10 – Tested Bazunu with a fierce drive before arriving in the box to thwack in White’s cross.
RM: Bukayo Saka – 6/10 – Nice interplay with White before Xhaka’s strike. Booked for a dive and not as big a threat as he has been in recent weeks.
AM: Martin Odegaard – 6/10 – Played some nice passes into Jesus and prevented one Saints counter-attack when Arsenal had no players back.
LM: Gabriel Martinelli – 6/10 – Made a few dangerous runs to the byline and into Southampton’s box.
ST: Gabriel Jesus – 6/10 – First sight of goal showed his twinkling dribbling before hitting the side netting. Drove at the Southampton defence but end product was lacking.
SUB: Eddie Nketiah (71′ for Martinelli) – 6/10
SUB: Kieran Tierney (71′ for White) – 6/10
SUB: Fabio Vieira (83′ for Odegaard) – N/A
Manager: Mikel Arteta – 6/10 – His side had the initiative in the early moments but didn’t show the killer instinct to win the game. Arteta responded with changes after the equaliser but their momentum had gone by then.