Something to build on.
Nevertheless, something bloodless about this – particularly in the first half.
Theo Walcott may have put his finger on it when he said he could sense Arsenal’s fear – evident when they retreated to a low block straight after kick-off.
The cameras panned on to Edu halfway through the first half in the stands shaking his head – as Aubameyang lost a ball on the left.
Arsenal played better in the second half and were on top until Gabriel got a second yellow. And then defended valiantly for the 1-1 and a point.
It is as if the fear of failure outweighs the prospect of success and the self-destruct button is triggered.
Ceballos and Elneny were midfield, with a back four or five. And Tierney and Saka as wing backs. Nketiah was in the middle with Pepe and Aubameyang either side, with Willian and Lacazette dropped.
Southampton played a 4-4-2 with the return of Theo Walcott. They last won at Arsenal 33 years ago.
Southampton came in roughly on Saka twice in the first five – Adams in particular.
Gabriel gave a free kick away in a dangerous position and at the other end Nketiah drove and shot – but not fast enough.
Adams turned in the centre circle and set Walcott away with Gabriel too close and Tierney square and he lobbed Leno, who may have gone down too early given Walcott does this move a lot.
And he had no respect for his old club in the celebration. He rarely played with such a swagger at Arsenal and seemes liberated.
Arsenal haven’t won this season going behind first.
When the ball went up to Nketiah, Aubameyang and Pepe they couldn’t hold it up and bring in midfield runners.
But towards the end of the half, Aubameyang found space and sent to Pepe whose shot was blocked by Vestergaard.
The Gabonese then set up Ceballos who went down in the area – no penalty. Then Saka hit it hard, bounced off Bednarek and it came off the post with McCarthy scrambling.
Ceballos then found Pepe in the area who swivelled and shot – but it was straight at McCarthy.
Aubameyang and Saka fashioned a chance at the start of the second half – but the ball didn’t break. But soon after Saka beat three and found Nketiah who set up Aubameyang in front of the goal and he hit it home – his first for 11 games and third of the season. Great relief all round.
Gabriel, who tends to get very close to forwards, like Martin Keown grabbed Walcott, hauled him down as he turned for a 2 on 2 and got a second yellow (the first for kicking the ball away!).
History repeats itself. When Arsenal are on top in the second half – they self-destruct on the hour.
The rest of the game – attack v defence, somewhat like Leeds.
A dangerous moment was when Romeo lobbed it over the Arsenal defence and Redmond hit the post.
The only Arsenal attack in 20 minutes after the sending off was on 84 when Willock was tripped by Ings and Pepe hit a loose ball well wide.
Redmond then cut in – beat Soares and hit the side netting.
In injury time, Holding met a header from a free kick which came off the bar. Could have done with the points – but one will do under the circumstances.
Aubameyang said: “The team gave everything to get the point. We are disappointed – we could have won. We are a bit nervous as we need points. We need to stay cool with the head. Tonight, is about the team.
Describing how he is quiet in a crisis, he said: “I want to talk on the pitch. Hopefully this is a turning point. We’ll keep working and believing.”
Mikel Arteta said: “Going against 10 men – we’ll take it (the point). We defended with our lives and showed a lot of personality. They are a high pressing team – we had some good moments. We had a mountain to climb with ten men. Hopefully that goal will unlock us.
On Gabriel’s red, he said there were many incidents in the match which weren’t yellow carded, implying the Brazilian was unlucky. But kicking the ball away shows a lot of indiscipline, which hopefully he’ll learn from.
Arsenal: Leno, Holding, Gabriel (Booked at 62), Tierney, Maitland-Niles, Elneny, Ceballos (Booked at 44 Substituted for Willock at 67), Saka, Pépé (Substituted for Cédric Soares at 85), Nketiah (Substituted fo rDavid Luiz at 65), Aubameyang.
Southampton: McCarthy, Walker-Peters, Bednarek (Booked at 26), Vestergaard, Bertrand (Booked at 33), Armstrong (Substituted for Redmond at 63), Ward-Prowse, Romeu, Walcott (Substituted for Djenepo at 63), Ings (Booked at 83)