Arsene Wenger will be disappointed with Arsenal's draw at Southampton, says Alan Smith
Top four-chasing Arsenal can't afford to draw against the likes of Southampton, says Alan Smith.
Last Updated: 02/01/13 9:32am
The Gunners - who had scored 13 times to win their last three games of 2012 - were unable to find a decisive second at St Mary's after Guly's own goal had pulled them level following Gaston Ramirez's opener.
Former Arsenal striker Smith said the Londoners lacked a cutting edge and warned slipping below their standards against sides such as Southampton could cost them in the race for the top four and a precious Champions League qualifying spot.
"After the results and goals they've scored lately Wenger would have expected more from his side," said Smith.
"In the first half they didn't play so well but in the second half you'd expect them to go on and make their extra class and ability count.
"Maybe there was a lack of urgency because they didn't get the ball in the box early enough.
"But Tottenham won before this match and Chelsea are gathering steam, so there's going to be a real scramble for third and fourth this season and Arsenal can't afford to drop points like that."
However, Smith also had praise for the hosts who, he says, didn't allow Arsenal the time and space to create clear cut opportunities.
"Arsenal never really got going and they didn't give Theo Walcott much service," he said.
"But Southampton did well to shut down Jack Wilshere, Mikel Arteta and Santi Cazorla in the middle of the park. Arsenal are strong when they are able to dominate the midfield but Southampton condensed it and they couldn't find a way through.
"Southampton stood strong and whatever Arsenal managed to throw at them they coped with."
Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier was understandably pleased to see his former side earn another important point in their battle for Premier League survival and picked out the good work of the Saints' backline and midfield duo of Steven Davis and Morgan Schneiderlin for special praise.
"The whole of the Southampton back four did really well," he said. "It was as solid as they have looked for a long time.
"In the first eight or ten games of the season they were looking very shaky and every time a team attacked they looked like they may concede a goal. But it's not looking that way at the moment so massive improvement has been made, for sure.
"In midfield Davis and Schneiderlin did well, too. That was an important area of the pitch because if you let Wilshere and Cazorla get on the ball in dangerous areas of the field they will hurt you.
"But they closed them down and didn't let them get good possession 20-25 yards out from goal, where they can pick little passes into the box.
"Southampton also had an attacking threat against a very good Arsenal side, so there were a lot of positives for them."
Smith agreed, and reckons if Saints can maintain their defensive discipline they can earn another season in the top flight.
"Southampton are growing in confidence," he said. "They've conceded just ten goals in their last ten games, which tells its own story. If they can continue that then they give themselves a chance - but if they're leaking goals all the time they haven't got the attack to compensate for that.
"It will be tight for them, there's no question, but if they can continue their defensive resolve who knows?"