Arsenal ‘unlucky’ but find no paper for the cracks

Although a 2-2 draw, this was dire entertainment ruined by a referee who on the one hand was officious on some things and on the other let things go which should have been punished.

Stuart Attwell ignored persistent Southampton fouling (19) and booked only one player for time-wasting. The Premiership needs to tighten up on this, otherwise clubs are going to take a financial hit.

Having said that Arsenal played right into Southampton’s hands.

Playing the ball out from the back meant it hardly reached the half-way line let alone the Southampton area before a niggling foul came in to break up the play. And if there was contact, a Saints player would invariably hit the turf.

It highlights the fact the current Arsenal team can’t work out problems themselves they face on the pitch. Long balls from Leno would have at least given Arsenal a chance to get it to the strike force.

Why ‘unlucky’?

Rolling ball
Cameras picked up the ball was moving when Southampton took the quick free kick leading to the goal. Yet Arsenal were pulled up twice from a similar situation. VAR doesn’t look at these incidents.

Posts and bar
Ings’ shot from the free kick hit the post and went in. Pepe’s scissor effort in the second half hit the bar and came out.

VAR tug
Prior to the international break the small tug Tierney applied to Ings as he ran across the area would not have been punished. But now VAR officials have been instructed to look at these incidents.

Arsenal made two changes from the previous outing. Holding was out with a knee injury and Kolasinac a tight hamstring. Southampton hadn’t won a league match at Arsenal since 1987 with a winner from Danny Wallace.

Like other home games recently, visiting teams put Arsenal on the back foot from the start. Tierney mis-controlled a crossfield ball and lost out to Armstrong who drove on and who shot wide.

Chambers clattered Redmond, but Bertrand, next to him took an instant free kick when five Arsenal players weren’t looking – appealing to the referee. Danny Ings had a free run and shot which hit the inside of the post and went in.

If there was a sign to support the Emery out brigade, it was the fact that some defenders strolled back as Ings raced forward, seemingly unconcerned. Are the players playing for him? If not it will be very hard to turn around.

Obafemi broke down the right and crossed for Ings who fired over. Luiz and Sokratis had a go at each other.

Ozil had some good touches and set up Tierney on the left who found Aubameyang. His first shot hit Højbjerg but the rebound fell to Lacazette who buried it.

Redmond scurried down the left and sent in a low dangerous cross – cleared by Luiz. Some boos greeted the half-time whistle.

Pepe came on for Chambers in the second half, with Arsenal going to a back four. And it appeared the half-time team talk had galvanised them. Lacazette dinked a fancy cross to Guendouzi who found Tierney – but his shot was blocked.

But the to and fro continued as Obafemi ran into the Arsenal area tracked by Torriera who poked it goalwards tipped round by a diving Leno.

Again, Lacazette and Aubameyang linked up in the Southampton area following the Frenchman’s run with the Gabonese firing goalwards – only to be deflected wide by McCarthy.

A Pepe break saw the Ivorian with only one player to beat – but his lack of confidence showed as he passed to Ozil and it was intercepted.

A Redmond shot was then tipped over by Leno.

Tierney got to the byline and crossed and Pepe’s scissor kick hit the bar.

Sokratis decided to dribble in his own area but was caught by Cedric who crossed too hard for the waiting Obafemi for a simple tap-in. The crowd was incandescent.

The game was very open and Southampton broke three on three with Obafemi sliding a ball across the Arsenal area. Tierney instinctively gave a small tug on Ings’ arm and Atwell awarded a penalty. Four players were encroaching at the time of the kick and Leno was off his line. Atwell seemed to make the rules on this up as he went along and allowed it. Joke.

Arsenal attacked in desperation. Willock on for Torriera found Lacazette on the right who found Ozil in the middle. But the German controlled it well but fired over.

Joe Willock who injected some dynamism rose from a corner and headed on target, but McCarthy saved.

But Arsenal were wider open at this stage and Djenepo on for Obafemi, fired past Leno, but Willock saved a goal by defending in front of the line.

Boufal, on for Armstrong, dribbled right through on the left byline and set up Djenepo who fired just wide of the post.

In stoppage time, Luiz fired a long crossfield ball headed on by Aubameyang which found Martinelli on the left. The Brazilian fired a low cross which found Lacazette who killed it and poked it home.

Both Lacazette and Emery showed little emotion – which spoke volumes.

Arsenal: Leno, Chambers (Substituted for Pépé 45, Booked at 65) Luiz, Papastathopoulos (Booked at 28), Bellerín (Substituted for Martinelli at 83), Torreira (Booked at 23, Substituted for Willock 83), Guendouzi (Booked at 89), Tierney (Booked at 69), Özil, Lacazette (Booked at 45), Aubameyang.

Southampton: McCarthy,Soares, Stephens, Bednarek, Bertrand (Booked at 81), Armstrong (Substituted for Boufal at 86), Ward-Prowse, Højbjerg, Redmond, Obafemi (Substituted for Djenepo 76), Ings (Booked 31, Substituted for Long 73).