Arsenal lost at Southampton in the Premier League, missing a glorious chance to draw level with Tottenham Hotspur in the contention for fourth place.
With rivals Spurs losing at home to Brighton earlier in the day, Arsenal had an opportunity to reach 57 points and have a game in hand against their neighbours. However, despite a promising start to the game and a strong finish, Mikel Arteta’s men lacked urgency in the face of the challenge ahead. Jan Bednarek scored the decisive goal against the flow of play and just before half-time, when he found the net from close range after clever work from Mohamed Elyounoussi.
Arsenal had previously missed two good chances to break the deadlock and Saints keeper Fraser Forster made two superb saves to thwart the visitors. Forster first dove deep right to deny Gabriel Martinelli and then high right to thwart Bukayo Saka – who should have been better – at close range.
Forster then proved just as hard to beat in the second half, with Eddie Nketiah, Saka and Granit Xhaka all coming close.
It’s now three straight defeats for Arteta’s men and an advantage for Manchester United in the race for that elusive Champions League spot.
Arsenal started brilliantly, dominating possession, creating two scoring chances early on. By the start of the second half, the Gunners had 80% possession, 76% overall.
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Arsenal will be kicking themselves for failing to build from a bright start. They were guilty of wasting good chances before seemingly running out of breath. They threatened late, but it was too little too late.
Manager rating of 10
5 — Mikel Arteta started with Saka on the left and Martinelli on the right, which didn’t seem to bring out the best in either player. Additionally, he stuck to set pieces with Cedric, which seemed odd given the result every time he took one. Arteta then switched to a back three as he watched the game and while Arsenal increased the pressure on the home side they failed to regain par.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players featured after 70 minutes receive no rating)
GK Aaron Ramsdale, 5 – The goalkeeper had very little to do as Arsenal dominated possession in front of him in the first half hour. His first major contribution was getting the ball out of his net; The England international was able to bolster Bednarek’s efforts but couldn’t stop it.
DF Ben White, 5 — Struggled to keep up with Armando Broja in the opening games. He was also guilty of sometimes slowing the game when bringing the ball out of defense and that didn’t change when he went forward in Arteta’s second-half reshuffle.
DF Gabriel Magalhaes, 6 – The defender was guilty of playing online just before scoring against the Saints. However, he was one of the few Arsenal players who tried to break the boundaries with his distribution.
DF Cedric Soares, 4 — Returned to St. Mary’s, but only with ironic scorn. His first free kick went straight to the side netting from a promising position, his second went over the bar. A poor performance.
DF Nuno Tavares, 4 — The Portuguese defender started this game better than his previous two games but soon lost his way. In the second half he made way for Nicolas Pepe.
MF Martin Odegaard, 5 — A disappointing afternoon for the skipper who failed to score much of note in the last third until a shattered shot from the edge of the area in the last third.
MF Albert Sambi Lokonga, 4 – Lokonga picked up the ball in deep positions but was slow when switching the ball. He was also guilty of losing possession of the ball on numerous occasions.
MF Granit Xhaka, 5 — was allowed to push further in the second half and it almost paid off when his attempt was well parried by Forster.
FW Bukayo Saka, 6 – The winger should have put Arsenal ahead when he had the goal in his hand but his attempt – with his weaker foot – was tipped over the bar by Forster. He came close twice in the second half but just couldn’t beat Forster.
FW Eddie Nketiah, 6 – Led the line in the absence of Alexandre Lacazette and worked tirelessly to put pressure on the Southampton defence. He still had to be patient for his first shot on goal, but like his teammates he couldn’t find a way past Forster.
FW Gabriel Martinelli, 6 — Had Arsenal’s first chance of the game. He sliced into his left foot from the right side, forcing Forster to a safe low on his right. Shortly after, he set up Saka with an excellent pass. Looked bright throughout.
Emile Smith Rowe (Soares, 60) 6 – Added a greater sense of urgency to Arsenal’s attack which will have fans scratching their heads as to why he didn’t start.
Nicolas Pepe (Tavares, 70) N/A — The Frenchman seemed lively in the last 20 minutes. Southampton will be grateful he didn’t start the game.