Arsenal hold Saints in Dramatic 2-2 Draw

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A spirited Southampton were denied all three points at the Emirates, courtesy of Alexandre Lacazette’s last-minute equaliser.

Before Saturday’s meeting, both managers Unai Emery and Ralph Hassenhuttl were the bookmakers’ joint favourites to be the next Premier League manager sacked. The former will be under increasing pressure after this match: Southampton looked the better team throughout and, if not for wasting clear cut chances, would have come away with all three points.

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Hasenhuttl wanted his team to become ‘nasty’ in the prelude to this match and this was palpable in his team’s aggression and intensity. The Saints pressing from the front was effective in preventing Arsenal from playing out from the back, forcing them to be dispossessed from the outset, as Kieran Tierney was pressed into a mistake which led to Stuart Armstrong’s first-minute attempt on goal.

The Saints duly took the lead as quick thinking from a Ryan Bertrand free-kick caught out the Arsenal defence and played Danny Ings in on goal, who kept his composure to strike his low drive in off the post. Southampton continued to dominate as Ings spurned his effort over the bar, whilst James Ward-Prowse’s venomous shot was saved by Bernd Leno.

The Saints were undone when their rear guard failed to deal with Tierney’s cross from the left. Despite blocking Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s shot, Lacazette followed up from close range to level the proceedings.

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The equaliser did little to unsettle the Saints, who maintained their high intensity and pressing. Cedric Soares dispossessed Sokratis inside his own area, but was unable to find Michael Obafemi with the final pass. The Saints scored a second as Tierney tugged at Ings’ shirt; a VAR check confirmed Ings as onside and the Saints were awarded a penalty. Despite having his initial effort palmed away, Ward-Prowse fired in the rebound to give the Saints a deserved lead.

The Saints missed guilt-edged chances in the final quarter of the game, as Moussa Djenepo’s effort was scrambled off the line, before Djenepo fired wide from close range. These were chances that the Saints will rue, as Lacazette stabbed home Gabriel Martinelli’s cross in the dying embers of the game to deny the Saints their first away victory against Arsenal since 1987.

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Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl’s post-match thoughts:

We were critical and tried to go back to basics. The key today was we were more on the front foot. We have to big up the positive things. The only way to get something from the Premier League is to be as energetic as we were today. The last weeks were not easy for anybody but the team showed they are believing in what we are doing. With the third and fourth goal it is gone. We didn’t do it today but next week we have to.

Hassenhuttl was referring to Southampton’s next Premier League match next Saturday where they play host to Watford, who currently sit at the foot of the table.

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