Olivier Giroud

Substitute Olivier Giroud glanced in a superb late header to salvage a point for an underwhelming Arsenal side against impressive Southampton.

The France forward climbed above Virgil van Dijk to steer home Alexis Sanchez’s cross in the 88th minute and make Arsenal’s possession finally pay.

It had seemed the Gunners’ slow start was going to cost them on successive weekends when Charlie Austin clipped home the opener three minutes into the match with the away defence mere onlookers.

The Southampton striker also drilled a stinging shot into Petr Cech’s gloves shortly after and then hit the post.

A sharp save from Aaron Ramsey apart, Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster had little to do as the visitors struggled to carve out clear-cut chances before their late leveller.

Indeed Southampton were left to rue several wasted chances on the counter attack, with Ryan Bertrand missing the best of those in the second half.

A draw moves Arsenal level on points but behind on goal difference to fourth-placed Liverpool, who play in Sunday afternoon’s Merseyside derby. Southampton break into the top half of the table, leapfrogging Huddersfield and Everton into 10th.

History repeats on Arsenal

Charlie Austin scores the opener against Arsenal<!–<!–[if lte IE 8]><![endif]–>

Arsenal’s dominance over Manchester United in their last league game came to nothing after a slow start full of individual errors gave them too much ground to make up.

Arsene Wenger made one change from that line-up, but Per Mertesacker’s inclusion did not remove that flaw at St Mary’s.

The German centre-back gave possession away cheaply and was made to pay as Dusan Tadic’s cute reverse ball picked out Austin, who clinically found the net.

It could easily have been worse for the Gunners in the opening 10 minutes too, as the visiting defence lacked any cohesion or organisation collectively.

Individually, Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal failed to track runners or show the commitment of the Saints attackers.

Just as against United, Arsenal spent plenty of time on the ball in the second half, with 70% possession after the break – but moments of real concern for the Southampton defence were rare before Giroud’s equaliser.

The Frenchman’s celebration, pointing to the name on the back of his shirt, might have been a reminder to his manager that he is available from the start. He has scored four league goals in 13 substitute appearances during this campaign yet is still to make his first start.

A goal every 80 minutes from Austin

Charlie Austin<!–<!–[if lte IE 8]><![endif]–>

Like Giroud, Austin is another striker making a case for more game time.

The 28-year-old, in only his third league start of the season, showed the clinical finishing touch that the Saints lacked in scoring only nine goals in their opening 12 games.

After clipping over Cech for the opener, he brought a good save from the Arsenal goalkeeper and hit the post from an offside position as he ran the Gunners ragged in the opening 10 minutes.

He has spent much of the season behind Shane Long and Manolo Gabbiadini in Saints boss Mauricio Pellegrino’s thoughts, but eight goals in his last 11 league starts and an overall strike rate of a goal every 80 minutes in this season’s top flight are a robust case for his inclusion.

Indeed if it continues, England manager Gareth Southgate might yet take note with a view to next summer’s World Cup.

Saints fans can look on sunny side

Arsenal's Arsene Wenger with Southampton counterpart Mauricio Pellegrino<!–<!–[if lte IE 8]><![endif]–>

Since beating Everton convincingly at the end of November, the Saints have been a matter of seconds away from taking a point from Manchester City and came from behind to do so at Bournemouth.

As at Etihad Stadium against City, their concentration and discipline lapsed towards the end, but Southampton did not rely only on defensive doggedness.

They were lively and inventive in attack throughout, with Tadic always looking for an incisive pass and Nathan Redmond providing a quick outlet.

The Saints have lost once in their last four games, yet won only once in their last seven matches.

This performance was one to convince Saints fans to look on the sunny side of those statistics.

Line-ups

Southampton

  • 44Forster
  • 5StephensBooked at 82mins
  • 3Yoshida
  • 17van Dijk
  • 21Bertrand
  • 14RomeuBooked at 84mins
  • 23Højbjerg
  • 16Ward-Prowse
  • 11TadicSubstituted forDavisat 88′minutes
  • 22RedmondSubstituted forBoufalat 74′minutes
  • 10AustinSubstituted forGabbiadiniat 86′minutes

Substitutes

  • 6Hoedt
  • 8Davis
  • 13McCarthy
  • 18Lemina
  • 19Boufal
  • 20Gabbiadini
  • 26Pied

Arsenal

  • 33Cech
  • 6Koscielny
  • 4MertesackerSubstituted forWelbeckat 64′minutes
  • 18Monreal
  • 24BellerínBooked at 78mins
  • 8Ramsey
  • 29XhakaSubstituted forWilshereat 69′minutesBooked at 90mins
  • 31Kolasinac
  • 11Özil
  • 7Sánchez
  • 9LacazetteSubstituted forGiroudat 72′minutes

Substitutes

  • 10Wilshere
  • 12Giroud
  • 13Ospina
  • 17Iwobi
  • 23Welbeck
  • 30Maitland-Niles
  • 34Coquelin
Referee:
Robert Madley
Attendance:
31,643

Match Stats

Home TeamSouthamptonAway TeamArsenal
Possession
Home33%
Away67%
Shots
Home6
Away11
Shots on Target
Home3
Away6
Corners
Home4
Away5
Fouls
Home12
Away10

Live Text

Match ends, Southampton 1, Arsenal 1.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Southampton 1, Arsenal 1.

Attempt saved. Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Sead Kolasinac with a cross.

Sead Kolasinac (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (Southampton).

Corner, Southampton. Conceded by Mesut Özil.

Attempt blocked. Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (Southampton) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Sofiane Boufal.

Booking

Jack Wilshere (Arsenal) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Jack Wilshere (Arsenal).

Manolo Gabbiadini (Southampton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Manolo Gabbiadini (Southampton).

Substitution

Substitution, Southampton. Steven Davis replaces Dusan Tadic.

Goal!

Goal! Southampton 1, Arsenal 1. Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) header from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Alexis Sánchez with a cross.

Substitution

Substitution, Southampton. Manolo Gabbiadini replaces Charlie Austin.

Attempt saved. Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

Booking

Oriol Romeu (Southampton) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Jack Wilshere (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Oriol Romeu (Southampton).

Offside, Southampton. Sofiane Boufal tries a through ball, but Charlie Austin is caught offside.

Booking

Jack Stephens (Southampton) is shown the yellow card.

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Ryan Bertrand.

Booking

Héctor Bellerín (Arsenal) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Héctor Bellerín (Arsenal).

Sofiane Boufal (Southampton) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Héctor Bellerín (Arsenal).

Charlie Austin (Southampton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Danny Welbeck (Arsenal).

Virgil van Dijk (Southampton) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Substitution

Substitution, Southampton. Sofiane Boufal replaces Nathan Redmond.

Substitution

Substitution, Arsenal. Olivier Giroud replaces Alexandre Lacazette.

Jack Wilshere (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Dusan Tadic (Southampton).

Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Dusan Tadic (Southampton).

Offside, Arsenal. Jack Wilshere tries a through ball, but Mesut Özil is caught offside.

Substitution

Substitution, Arsenal. Jack Wilshere replaces Granit Xhaka.

Attempt missed. Nacho Monreal (Arsenal) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left following a corner.

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Ryan Bertrand.

Attempt missed. Ryan Bertrand (Southampton) left footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Dusan Tadic.

goal

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Source: BBC SPORTS

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Giroud rescues late point for Arsenal at Southampton
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