Arsenal’s winning streak came to an end through an uninspired show at Southampton as the saints saw off a spiritless attacking effort from the Gunners in a 1-1 draw.
Indeed, the context of tonight’s match was more of two teams cancelling out each other for a draw rather than Southampton hanging on against Wenger’s men. Such was the open fashion in which Tuesday’s match was contested that it was the home side who took the lead through a Ramriez strike and could have had sights on a triumph if not for a fortuitous equalizer from Arsenal after Walcott’s free-kick was deflected home.
On the back of four wins in a row and that festive goal spree against Newcastle, Arsene Wenger could hardly change anything about his side and so the same line-up that started Saturday’s match was chosen today.
For the opening 10 minutes, Wenger’s men had the lion’s share of possession as Southampton’s goalkeeper went through a very nervy spell, spilling routine catches.
A clear-cut chance in front of goal was still scarce for the Gunners and so the saints grew into the game with the score still 0-0. And by the half-hour mark, both sides were exchanging punches at both ends. Someone had to take the lead at this point and it was the hosts who did. But only through a gift from Arsenal.
Podolski lost possession in danger zone, Sagna provided a woeful clearance and the ball fell back to Ramirez who thumped it past Szczesny. But if Arsenal had helped Southampton score there, then Adkins’ men returned the favour only seven minutes later as Theo Walcott’s ambitious free-kick was guided home by Guly do Prado on the stroke on half-time in the 41st minute.
The second-half featured a brighter Southampton challenge as the home crowd encouraged their players to chase a lifting win. On the back of Southampton’s attempts, Arsenal carved out half-chances and indeed, none of them paid off as Podolski was withdrawn for Giroud after just 58 minutes.
The Frenchman imposed himself on the hosts’ defence but once Santi Cazorla was also substituted for Aaron Ramsey, you sensed that the Gunners were running out of ideas. Gervinho, on for Oxlade-Chamberlain, did little to contribute, only going close with an indifferent effort which brushed the side-netting.
But apart from those scraps in front of goal, there were few highlights from this one. It was that sort of night. A flat one.