Arsenal’s winless run continued as they drew against Southampton to increase the pressure on manager Unai Emery. The result leaves the Gunners in seventh, nine points worse off than at the corresponding stage last term, while the Saints remain 19th. Emery’s side, who were second best throughout, were booed off at the final whistle after delivering a disjointed performance which suggests they may struggle to compete for a place in the top four this season. Danny Ings’ early goal had put the visitors in front, with the forward catching the home defence asleep to race onto Ryan Bertrand’s free-kick and score with a right-foot shot from close range.
That set the tone for what was to follow, with the visitors wasting several good chances to extend their lead before Alexandre Lacazette turned in a close-range equaliser. The goal did little to kick-start Arsenal though, who fell behind for a second time when James Ward-Prowse scored on the rebound after seeing his second-half penalty saved by home goalkeeper Bernd Leno. Not even Lacazette’s second goal of the day, which came late in stoppage time, could raise spirits at the Emirates, with the forward appearing embarrassed to celebrate. Prior to Saturday’s games respective managers Unai Emery and Ralph Hassenhuttl shared the unenviable tag of being the bookmakers’ joint favourites to be the next Premier League manager dismissed. However, while Southampton’s dreadful record in north London suggested they could be ideal opponents for Emery to alleviate some of the pressure on him, things did not go to plan for the Arsenal boss or his team.
And until Lacazette’s late goal, his 24th at home of his 31 Premier League goals, his side had appeared likely to slip to a first home defeat against the Saints since 1987. That was largely due to familiar failings once again resurfacing, with Southampton’s pressing game and ability to bypass the Arsenal midfield clearly evident. They were also not helped by Emery’s deployment of a three-man defence of Sokratis Papastathopoulos, David Luiz and Calum Chambers. The trio were repeatedly pulled apart by the pace of Ings and Southampton’s 19-year-old Republic of Ireland forward, Michael Obafemi. While the introduction of club record signing Nicolas Pepe did at least spark their attacking play, they always remained vulnerable in defence and were fortunate to escape with a point.