Arsenal have faced more penalties than any other Premier League side this season

Arsenal drew against Southampton to increase the pressure on manager Unai Emery, who saw his side slip to ninth in the Premier League.

The result leaves the Gunners nine points worse off than at the corresponding stage last term, while the Saints remain 19th.

Emery’s side, who were second best throughout, were booed off at the final whistle after delivering a disjointed performance which suggested they may struggle to compete for a place in the top four this season.

Danny Ings’ early goal had put the visitors in front, with the forward catching the home defence asleep to race onto Ryan Bertrand’s free-kick and score with a right-foot shot from close range.

That set the tone for what was to follow, with the visitors wasting several good chances to extend their lead before Alexandre Lacazette turned in a close-range equaliser.

The goal did little to kick-start Arsenal though, who fell behind for a second time when James Ward-Prowse scored on the rebound after seeing his second-half penalty saved by home goalkeeper Bernd Leno.

Not even Lacazette’s second goal of the day, which came late in stoppage time, could raise spirits at the Emirates, with the forward appearing embarrassed to celebrate.

Pressure mounts on Emery

Prior to Saturday’s games respective managers Unai Emery and Ralph Hassenhuttl shared the unenviable tag of being the bookmakers joint favourites to be the next Premier League manager dismissed.

However, while Southampton’s dreadful record in north London suggested they could be ideal opponents for Emery to alleviate some of the pressure on him, things did not go to plan for the Arsenal boss or his team.

And until Lacazette’s late goal, his 24th in 30 Premier League games at home, his side had appeared likely to slip to a first home defeat against the Saints since 1987.

That was largely due to familiar failings once again resurfacing, with Southampton’s pressing game and ability to bypass the Arsenal midfield clearly evident.

They were also not helped by Emery’s deployment of a three-man defence of Sokratis Papastathopoulos, David Luiz and Calum Chambers.

The trio were repeatedly pulled apart by the pace of Ings and Southampton’s 19-year-old Republic of Ireland forward, Michael Obafemi.

Obafemi’s early dart away from Sokratis served as a warning, while Chambers’ withdrawal at the interval appeared to be an admission that Emery had got his tactics wrong.

While the introduction of club record signing Nicolas Pepe did at least spark their attacking play, they always remained vulnerable in defence and were fortunate to escape with a point.

Nasty Saints return

Ralph Hasenhuttl had called on his team to become “nasty” again in the prelude to this match and his team appeared to have heeded those words with a performance brimming with energy.

The Austrian felt his team had been too passive in their opening 12 games of the season, so Stuart Armstrong’s first-minute attempt on goal – coming after they had pressed Kieran Tierney into a mistake – would have been a welcome sight.

And they maintained that intensity throughout, stifling Arsenal’s attempts to play out from defence, which in part, contributed to their 21 shots on goal compared to the Gunners’ 12.

Ings and Obafemi were the triggers for much of that work, though Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Ward-Prowse, Nathan Redmond and Armstrong also featured prominently.

For large parts of the game there was also a resoluteness about their defending, which has been absent so far this season.

They may still have the worst defensive record in the Premier League, but this represented a marked improvement, with Jan Bednarek playing a central role in that with seven clearances, more than any other player.

The only negative for Hasenhuttl – who looked distraught to have not claimed all three points – was his side’s failure to convert any of half a dozen excellent chances to put the game beyond the hosts.

Substitute Moussa Djenepo was particularly at fault, twice failing to score from close range in the closing stages.



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