Southampton vs Arsenal. Premier League.
St. Mary's StadiumAttendance31,643.
Sunday 10 December 2017 19:30, UK
Olivier Giroud came off the bench to score a late equaliser as Arsenal battled to a 1-1 draw at Southampton on Sunday.
Charlie Austin's fourth goal in four games gave the hosts an early lead (3) after Per Mertesacker's loose pass gifted Southampton possession.
Petr Cech prevented Austin from scoring a quick-fire second, before Fraser Forster kept Arsenal at bay down the other end with a superb stop from Aaron Ramsey.
Southampton were then punished for a number of missed opportunities after the break when substitute Giroud headed in from Alexis Sanchez's cross in the 88th minute.
The point leaves Arsenal trailing behind Liverpool in fifth and one point above Tottenham, while Southampton move up to 10th in the Premier League table.
Southampton: Forster (7), Stephens (6), Van Dijk (6), Yoshida (7), Redmond (7), Romeu (6), Ward-Prowse (7), Hojbjerg (7), Redmond (7), Tadic (7), Austin (7)
Subs: Boufal (6), Gabbiadini (n/a), Davis (n/a)
Away Team: Cech (6), Mertesacker (4), Koscielny (5), Monreal (5), Bellerin (6), Ramsey (6), Xhaka (5), Kolasinac (6), Ozil (6), Sanchez (6), Lacazette (6)
Subs: Welbeck (6), Wilshere (6), Giroud (7)
Man of the match: Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg
Southampton capitalised on Mertesacker's misplaced pass when Austin lifted the ball beyond Cech after just remaining onside from Dusan Tadic's pass.
Austin could have had a second two minutes later, but his low strike across goal was kept out by Cech.
An end-to-end affair then saw Alexandre Lacazette force Forster to make a decent save before the Southampton 'keeper superbly kept out Ramsey's effort.
Southampton brought Maya Yoshida, Jack Stephens, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Nathan Redmond into the side, while Arsenal's only change was Per Mertesacker in for the injured Shkodran Mustafi.
Just before the break, Hector Bellerin picked out Lacazette in the middle, but the Frenchman could only fire over before being wiped out by Maya Yoshida - though the incident went unpunished by referee Bobby Madley.
And while Arsenal dominated play in the second half, it was Oriol Romeu whose long-distance strike clipped the bar for Southampton before Ryan Bertrand agonisingly chipped a ball beyond Cech but wide of the mark.
Arsene Wenger then called on Giroud - who is yet to start a Premier League game this season - to save Arsenal, and the Frenchman duly answered the call when glancing a header into the far corner, in what was his 17th league goal as an Arsenal substitute.
Southampton could not hold on after a tireless performance at St Mary's, but Hojbjerg's mighty shift in midfield almost steered the hosts to victory.
The Dane had more touches than any other Southampton player, while eight clearances - the most of anyone on the pitch - and a joint-high three interceptions helped the Saints' cause, which fell just short in the dying minutes.
Manuel Pellegrino: "At the beginning the feeling is that we have conceded at the end again, as it was more or less the same against City but it is different because we played a good game, showed intelligence and we got a point.
"Against this team you have to play close to excellent, because they don't need too many actions to create problems but in both aspects, attacking and defending, we were intelligent and focused from beginning until the end.
"It's a good reference for the future and in three days we have another opportunity. Hopefully we can continue in this way."
Arsene Wenger: "[Giroud] is important - why should we lose an important player? It is up to us [and not him].
"He will start more games. I believe as well it's always the same when you have many good players, some of them cannot play.
"The question you get is always why does the guy who is good not play? Because if you take him on you have another guy who is good who will not play, it is as simple as that."
Both sides are in Premier League action on Wednesday. Southampton welcome in-form Leicester to St Mary's, while Arsenal make the short trip to West Ham.