Arsenal: Cech, Bellerin, Gabriel, Koscielny, Monreal, Flamini, Ramsey, Ozil, Alexis, Campbell, Giroud
Subs: Ospina, Gibbs, Chambers, Mertesacker, Coquelin, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott
Arsenal suffered a night of frustration as poor finishing from a host of very presentable chances saw them draw 0-0 against Southampton at the Emirates.
After the win against Burnley, there were a raft of changes with Petr Cech, Hector Bellerin, Nacho Monreal, Mathieu Flamini, Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil and Joel Campbell all returning to the starting line-up. Francis Coquelin and Theo Walcott dropped to the bench, and there was no place in the 18 man squad for new boy Mohamed Elneny.
The game began with some Southampton pressure, a free kick and a couple of corners which Arsenal dealt with through the presence of Cech. The Gunners were sluggish but in the 12th minute crafted the best chance of the game. Alexis played a pass over the top, Ozil ran onto it, killed it with his first touch and placed his shot but the keeper saved with his feet. The touch deserved a goal.
The visitors were getting plenty of joy hitting long passes to Shane Long, who moved between the central defenders to win the headers, and Cech again was the busier of the two keepers having to deal with a dangerous free kick after a Campbell foul in midfield.
Despite Southampton looking most dangerous, Arsenal came closest to scoring again. A cross from the right was flicked on by Giroud, Ozil got a touch from point blank range and the touch from Forrester saw the ball dribble agonisingly wide of the post, much to the frustration of the German international who knew he should have scored from there.
With Lee Mason pulling the strings for Ronald Koeman’s side, Arsenal found it tough to build any rhythm, and Cech again was in the right place when Tadic’s shot was on target. Romeu shot over the bar after some sloppiness at the back, and there was a 40th minute chance for Southampton to score after the ball was cleared from a corner. It came back in, Mane got wrong side of Gabriel, but he made a poor conncection and dribbled his shot wide.
At the other end Giroud was brave to get a stooping header on an Alexis pass but saw it blocked out, and good work from Campbell fed Ozil in the box but he couldn’t get the ball out from under his feet from close range, meaning the teams went in level at the break.
Early in the second period, Forrester was called into action to prevent Arsenal from scoring, tipping over a right-footed Giroud effort after he’d been set up by Ramsey. That it all came from a terrible mistake from Flamini, and a worse one from Long, summed up the quality of the game overall.
There was more pressure from the Gunners though, and a brilliant move down the left saw Alexis play Ozil behind, he cut it back but it went behind every Arsenal player until Campbell won it back and curled a shot over.
At the other end a terrible pass from Gabriel sent Mane clean through but his finish was tame, and easy for Cech. Giroud got a header on target but without much power, making it easy for the keeper, before Arsene Wenger made his first change in the 62nd minute, bringing on Theo Walcott for Joel Campbell.
Alexis was next to test Forrester, heading on target from a Walcott cross, and there was a heart in mouth monent in our box when Gabriel slid in on Mane, and had the Southampton man gone down there might have been a big problem.
There were then 5 minutes when Arsenal had 5 great chances to score. Firstly Walcott’s shot with just the keeper to beat was poor, and his follow up allowed Forrester to save easily. Then the big keeper pushed an Alexis header around the post, before Koscielny headed over from inside the 6-yard box from an Ozil cross – he really should have broken the deadlock.
After Giroud had his shirt pulled and ripped, no penalty of course, Alexis saw a shot cleared off the line, and Giroud again couldn’t quite connect with an Ozil cross, nodding over. There was a lengthy stoppage in play when Fonte suffered a cut head, and that seemed to dent the Arsenal momentum a bit, but again Forrester made a save tipping over a Giroud header.
It almost opened for Ozil after a great combo with Alexis, but again Southampton got back to defend. Francis Coquelin came on for Flamini in the 85th minute, and promptly got booked for his first foul, swiftly followed by Gabriel for a foul deep in our half.
Ramsey got a shot on target, but it was straight at the keeper, and although Arsenal huffed and puffed, the chances missed earlier in the game proved so costly, and two big points were dropped at home.
With wins for Leicester, Sp*rs and Man City, we now sit 4th in the table, and the title challenge looks ever more difficult as the weeks go on.