Another setback for Arsenal’s top-four ambitions sees Arteta’s men slump to a third straight defeat after their efforts to break down a stubborn Southampton side come to nothing in the end.
The hosts were willing to cling on grimly during the second half, taking the lead towards the end of the first, and Forster’s heroics kept their visitors at bay.
SOUTHAMPTON (4-4-1-1): Fraser Forster;
Kyle Walker-Peters, Lyanco, Jan Bednarek, Romain Perraud;
Yan Valery, James Ward-Prowse, Oriol Romeu, Mohamed Elyounoussi;
Stuart Armstrong; Armando Broja.
ARSENAL (4-3-3): Aaron Ramsdale;
Cedric Soares, Ben White, Gabriel Magalhaes, Nuno Tavares;
Albert Sambi Lokonga, Granit Xhaka, Martin Odegaard;
Bukayo Saka, Eddie Nketiah, Gabriel Martinelli.
SAINTS LEAD! After Livramento punts a ball back over his head from outside the area, Elyounoussi keeps the ball alive on the left byline and cuts back for Bednarek to sweep home past Ramsdale. That was a smart finish for a burly centre-back! Southampton goes 1-0 up.
What does it mean? Gunners’ Champions League dream was dealt another blow.
Having emerged as favourites for a top-four finish after making an excellent start to 2022, Mikel Arteta’s team have suffered three consecutive defeats for the first time since August, when they lost their opening three games of the season.
That slump sees them trail Spurs by three points, with next month’s north London derby looking likely to prove decisive in the battle for Champions League football. However, a win for Manchester United elsewhere on Saturday means the Red Devils are now above Arsenal on goal difference.
So, what’s next?
Ultimately, having three-quarters of the possession proved fruitless for the Gunners, as they spurned the opportunity to capitalise on Tottenham’s slip-up earlier today.
After losing for the first time in seven games against Southampton, today’s defeat means Arsenal have taken just four points after going behind this season – perhaps summing up their most major flaw.
They travel to Stamford Bridge in midweek for a crucial London derby with Chelsea – and face Manchester United next weekend – while Saints visit Burnley on Thursday with a top-half finish still in sight.