Arsenal just about held on for the 1-1 draw at the St Mary’s Stadium this afternoon, with Southampton having threatened to steal all three points late on.
The Gunners started the match in the usual fashion, with our foot straight down on the pedal to put our rivals immediately on the back foot, and it didn’t take long before we found the opening goal.
Ben White’s cross was met by Xhaka on the edge of the six-yard box, who lashed his effort into the roof of the net, giving rival goalkeeper Bazunu no chance of denying us the early lead.
We continued to dominate the remainder of the half, but the other talking points come from a yellow card for young star Bukayo Saka, who was penalised for simulation while Jesus closed out the half by forcing a late save in the middle of the goal.
Things changed in the second-half however, with our rivals enjoying much more time in our final third, and when the Saints found an equaliser with Stuart Armstrong finishing off a neat team move to steer the ball beyond Aaron Ramsdale, I feared we could end up losing the tie.
Martin Odegaard did manage to get the ball in the back of the net, but Kieran Tierney had allowed the ball to trickle over the goal line before he played the ball into the Norwegian, and it was swiftly chalked off.
Nketiah, Tierney and Vieira were brought on for White, Martinelli and Odegaard as we look to freshen things up in attack, but the flow of the game remained in favour of the home side, while our best efforts to gain momentum were halted by fouls, and the it wasn’t a pleasant watch.
We shared the spoils in a game which you could say was a fair result, given that we were the clear better side in the opening 45 minutes, but the reality is that we had to hold on when it counted, and were lucky to escape with a point in the end.
Has talk of a title push affected our preparation, or do Southampton just deserve credit for stopping us from playing our game?